August 08, 2004
Family of Cops Loses Chicago Officer To Crash With Drunk Driver
Officer Down: Michael Gordon - [Chicago, Illinois]
By H. Gregory Meyer and Tom Rybarczyk, The Chicago Tribune
Police work came naturally to Officer Michael Gordon, a man who
patrolled Chicago's rough-and-tumble Harrison District on the
His father, Robert Jr., recently retired as assistant chief of the
Riverside Police Department. An older brother, Robert III, is a cop
in Broadview. An uncle is an officer and a cousin a lieutenant with
the Chicago force, his mother said.
"It was a family business, as they say," said Gordon's aunt, Pat Gordon Bann.
Gordon's promising start to a law-enforcement career ended at dawn
Sunday when a drunken driver in a sedan ran a red light at Sacramento
and Jackson Boulevards and collided with his squad car, throwing him
and a rookie officer in the passenger seat from the vehicle, police
Gordon, 30, was pronounced dead less than an hour later in Stroger
Hospital, while Officer John Dalcason, 24, was listed in fair
condition in Mt. Sinai Hospital, authorities said.
It was the city's first on-duty fatality since March 2003, when Sgt.
Philip O'Reilly died in a collision with a tow truck, police said.
The driver of the sedan that police said plowed into the front end of
the squad car, Luis Calle of the 6000 block of West Melrose Street in
Chicago, died later Sunday morning, police said. Calle's
blood-alcohol level was 0.177, police said--more than twice the legal
Gordon had served as a military police officer in Bosnia and South
Korea attached to the Army's 82nd Airborne Division before joining
the Riverside and then Chicago police.
Took a pay cut
He took a $15,000 pay cut when he left Riverside in 2002, said his
mother, Carol. He was assigned to the West Side's Harrison District,
one of the most violent in the city, working the overnight shift, she
"He wanted a job where he didn't just write tickets. He wanted to
catch the bad guy," said his mother, a Darien resident.
Driving home during the city's morning rush hour, Gordon would often
call his father, who retired last year after three decades on
Riverside's force, to debrief. He would talk about a carjacking he
helped stop or the outsiders driving into the neighborhood to buy
"It was very much a culture shock for him to be on the West Side,"
his mother said.
Outside Stroger Hospital's emergency room Sunday, Police Supt. Philip
Cline briefed Harrison District officers as some sat on the curb
cradling heads in their hands and others exchanged embraces.
Darien police took his mother and father in a squad car to the
hospital. In front of Gordon's Rogers Park apartment, more police
guarded the entryway to the three-flat as his family mourned inside.
Gordon is survived by his wife, Guin, 35; their daughter, Grace, 6
months; two sons from a previous marriage, Malik, 7, and Cullen, 5;
and a stepson, David Lopez, 16. Another brother, John, 35, works for
a securities firm.
Gordon was driving east on Jackson when Calle, driving south, ran a
red light "at a high rate of speed" and crashed into the squad car,
said police spokesman Carlos Herrera. Both Gordon and Dalcason were
ejected, police said. Herrera said it was not clear whether they were
wearing seat belts.
The sedan's bumper lay on the corner with thick white skid marks
scratched onto its right side Sunday morning. A steel road barrier
was bent in half.
Twon Williams of the 3000 block of West Jackson said he just had
returned home when he heard the crash.
"All we saw was smoke," he said.
Williams said he saw an officer on the ground. Then about 10 police
officers managed to lift up the squad car and pull another officer
out from underneath, he said.
Gordon grew up in Cicero, became an Eagle Scout and graduated from
Berwyn's Morton West High School, his mother said. After a couple of
years of uncertainty, the muscular, 6-foot-5 Gordon joined the Army.
In a war-torn Bosnia he served as a military police officer. When he
returned home, he kissed the ground and told his mother he wanted to
see a priest because of the things he had seen, she said. He also
patrolled the demilitarized zone in Korea.
"He just said the American public does not know how good they have it
in this country," she said.
Raked in awards
By 2000 he was a newly minted officer on Riverside's 20-person police
force, said Police Chief Gene Karczewski. In his two years in uniform
there, he had raked in awards and grateful correspondence for
everything from catching burglars to retrieving lost children.
"He would go light someone's pilot light if they needed it," Karczewski said.
He joined the Chicago force in October 2002, about the time he
married his second wife in Las Vegas, his mother said. Their
daughter, born prematurely, would recognize her father by the blue of
his uniform, Karczewski said.
On patrol in the Harrison District, he usually shared a car with
Officer Mario Mendoza, who was off Sunday morning. They would talk
about his baby girl, argue about the best war films or trade barbs
about the White Sox or the Cubs--Gordon rooted for the North Side
team, Mendoza said.
Early Sunday, Gordon called his regular partner "busting my chops"
about the Cubs' win over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday,
Just a while later, the sedan came rolling down Sacramento Boulevard
and, without leaving as much as skid mark, nailed Gordon's squad car,
"How ironic," his mother said. "He was out to get the bad guy, and in
the end it was just a drunk driver that killed him."