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Decades after deaths of 4 cops, police stars added to wall honoring fallen officers

“We thank you, we honor you, and we will never forget you,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

Artis Jackson hugs his sister, Ansonia Richardson, moments after honoring their deceased father, Chicago Police Officer Arthur O. Jackson, by placing his police star in the “Honored Star Case” at police headquarters Tuesday.
Artis Jackson hugs his sister, Ansonia Richardson, moments after honoring their deceased father, Chicago Police Officer Arthur O. Jackson, by placing his police star in the “Honored Star Case” at police headquarters Tuesday.
Provided by Chicago police

On Tuesday, four more police stars were added to the 501 stars that already grace the walls of Chicago police headquarters — each representing a fallen officer.

“These are lives cut short because they made good on their oaths to serve and protect the people of Chicago,” Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said during a brief ceremony in which relatives of the deceased officers placed their police stars inside the “Honored Star Case” — a glass display that lines an entrance of the building at 35th Street and Michigan Avenue.

“We thank you, we honor you, and we will never forget you,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at the ceremony.

Four new stars (the ones on the right) were added to the Chicago Police Department’s “Honored Star Case.” Each star represents a fallen officer. There are now 505 stars in the case.
Mitch Dudek / Sun-Times

Each of the four officers honored Tuesday died in the 1980s.

Officer Robert E. Marousek Sr. died in 1981 at the age of 35 from a heart attack he suffered moments after loading the body of an unresponsive man into a police vehicle.

Officer Gregory R. Edwards was off-duty when he was confronted by a gunman at a hotel in 1987. After identifying himself as a police officer, Edwards, 27, was fatally shot in the head and chest.

Officer Arthur O. Jackson was pronounced dead from cardiac arrest shortly after chasing a suspect who was spotted driving a stolen vehicle in 1987. He was 66.

Officer Helen P. Cardwell, 50, died in car accident in 1988. She lost control of her vehicle while driving to pick up her assigned squad car. She veered into oncoming traffic and two trees.

The officers’ stars were added to the wall decades after their deaths because for years, the space was strictly reserved for officers who were fatally shot or otherwise violently killed in the line of duty.

Former Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline — who headed up the department from 2003 to 2007 — amended the definition of “line of duty” deaths to include those resulting from things such as heart attacks and car accidents, which previously had been classified as “performance of duty” deaths, according to Officer Tracy Hoover, who works in the awards and recognition section of the police department’s human resources division.

Family members of deceased officers who want a loved one’s death reclassified as “line of duty” regularly reach out to the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation — a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the lives of fallen cops — which then brings the case to the attention of the police department.

“We will then do the research on it and see if it does fit the standards, we’ll find data, all of the case reports, including the reports from the morgue,” Hoover said.

Artis Jackson, 55, said he used to live near police headquarters and would wander in occasionally to search for his dad’s star, but could never find it.

Jackson said his son sent a note to the foundation a few years ago through their website inquiring why Arthur O. Jackson’s star was missing from the wall.

“We had forgotten about it and then a police officer showed up at my home in March and said, ‘Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble’ and told me that this would be happening,” Jackson said, noting that his father was a great cop and dad.

“He always did something that I thought was embarrassing,” Jackson recalled with a smile.

“I would get in the car with all my friends standing around and we’d be just sitting there like, ‘Come on, dad, let’s go!,’ and he’d be like, ‘We’re not going anywhere until you give me a kiss’...Even when I was a grown man he did this.”

Jackson’s father was the first African American police officer to serve in the police marine unit, which patrols Chicago’s lakefront and the Chicago River, said Jackson, who attended the event with his sister, Ansonia Richardson.

Richardson said of her father: “He was always drilling it in me to watch my surroundings and be careful who I was with and don’t get in a car with a stranger.”