2nd CPD officer to die of COVID-19 wanted his death ‘to serve as a warning,’ Lightfoot says

Sgt. Cliff Martin, a 25-year Chicago police veteran, was hospitalized with the coronavirus for about two weeks before he died Friday.

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Chicago Police Sgt. Cliff Martin

Chicago Police Sgt. Cliff Martin

Provided by Chicago Police

Two days after the funeral of the first Chicago police officer to die of the coronavirus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and and interim Supt. Charlie Beck on Saturday remembered the department’s second fatal COVID-19 victim as “a Chicagoan through and through.”

Sgt. Cliff Martin had a decorated 25-year career in the department, most recently in the Area Central detectives division, before coming down with the virus last month.

“Our hearts go out to Sgt. Martin’s wife and his three children who are now grieving over the unimaginable loss of a husband and father who was taken from them so suddenly by this terrible disease,” Lightfoot said at a news conference.

The mayor said Martin’s widow relayed that he “would want his death to serve as a warning to civilians that they must stay home.”

“Our first responders are making daily sacrifices to protect the lives of others. Don’t make their sacrifices be in vain. Stay home and save lives,” Lightfoot said.

Beck said Martin grew up in a Chicago housing development and “worked his way up to become one of the most respected detectives in the Chicago Police Department,” investigating hundreds of homicides and training hundreds of other detectives.

Martin, 56, began showing symptoms March 20 and went on sick leave two days later, Beck said. He was hospitalized for two weeks at the University of Chicago Medical Center before dying Friday.

Where he contracted the virus is a “matter of speculation,” Beck said.

“Unfortunately, this is a very, very difficult murderer to trace. That is the key to this: how do we go back and find out where it came from?”

Chicago Police Officer Marco DiFranco, who died of complications from the coronavirus Thursday.

Chicago Police Officer Marco DiFranco


Martin’s death follows that of veteran CPD narcotics officer Marco DiFranco, who died of COVID-19 last week and was buried Thursday. DiFranco, 50, had been with the department since 1998 and was based in the Homan Square facility.

As of Saturday morning, 237 CPD employees had tested positive for COVID-19, while about a thousand — or 8% of the department — have been calling off sick “for things which may be related to the virus, but there’s no way to tell at this point,” Beck said.

Martin is the fifth city employee to die of COVID-19. Earlier this week, veteran Chicago firefighter Mario Araujo succumbed to the virus. The 49-year-old spent most of his career on Truck 25, which operates out of Engine 102 in Rogers Park on the North Side, according to CFD spokesman Larry Langford.

“The tragedies pile upon each other and they make our hearts heavy, but the men and women of the Chicago Police Department go out every day,” Beck said. “They can’t stay home, they can’t shelter in place.”

Martin is survived by his wife and three children, including a son and daughter who followed him into CPD careers. Services have not been announced.

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