Fallen

In Memoriam Officer Bernie Domagala

Eddie T. Johnson, superintendent and chief of the Chicago Police Department in Illinois sadly reports the death of Officer Bernie Domagala.

Officer Domagala, 66, succumbed to complications of a duty incurred gunshot wound that he sustained on July 14, 1988.

Domagala was a member of the department’s tactical team and was at the scene of a barricaded gunman. During the incident, he sustained a single gunshot wound to the forehead over his right eye. Although critically injured, Domagala survived the incident but sustained a traumatic brain injury and was disabled. He was eventually medically retired from the department.

Due to his injury, Domagala was confined to a wheelchair and lived in a long-term rehabilitation center that provided 24 hour nursing care for several years. During this time, he underwent multiple brain surgeries but still suffered complications from the original gunshot wound. Eventually, he was able to rejoin his family and lived at a specially equipped home on the south end of Chicago. Sadly, he succumbed to the complications of his injury and passed away at home.

Bernie Domagala served the Chicago Police Department for seven years prior to his life-altering injury. He was assigned to the South Unit of the Gang Crimes Section as well as being a member of the Tactical and Hostage Negotiation Team. His wife and three sons survive him.

From the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation:

The City of Chicago has lost a true hero. It is with a heavy heart that we report that Officer Bernie Domagala passed away after suffering for twenty-nine years from the devastating injuries he sustained when shot while he was on duty on July 14, 1988. Bernie was the father of three boys, Erik, Craig and Adam, and husband to Denise. Despite the many challenges his life held for him since being injured, he never lost his love for the two most important things in his life: his family and the Chicago Police Department.

Born and raised in Chicago, it was always Bernie’s professional dream to become a Chicago Police officer. Six years after taking the test, his dream came true, and in 1981 he proudly became PO Bernard W. Domagala, Star #8996. It was one of the two most important things in his life. The other was his family. He loved his job as he knew he would, and always said “every day is something different, a new challenge.” While on the job two challenges he enjoyed were being assigned to the Gang Crimes South Unit and becoming a member of the Hostage, Barricade, and Terrorist Unit (HBT).

Shortly before his shift was over on the afternoon of July 14th 1988, Bernie responded to a hostage situation at 7237 S. Stony Island Avenue. Officers surrounded the property, and Bernie had taken a defensive position at the corner of the garage. He looked around the corner at the house, and in that split second the offender shot his gun hitting Bernie above his eye in the forehead. He was transported to Michael Reese Hospital where he underwent 6 hours of surgery to remove a bullet from his brain. Bernie was 37 years old at the time, with a young family of three sons: Erik was 4, and twins Craig and Adam were 4 months old.

Through it all, and thanks to the constant love and support from Denise, Erik, Craig and Adam, Bernie never lost his smile. We will remember him as a true hero. We will NEVER FORGET Chicago Police Officer Bernie Domagala.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Domagala Family during this time.

Officer Bernie Domagala is gone, but will never be forgotten. EOW: Tuesday, September 5, 2017.

(Graphics courtesy Rose Borisow GrafX)

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Author
Patrick Sharkey

Pat Sharkey earned an associate's Degree at Kellogg Community College and was hired by the Battle Creek Township Police Department as a dispatcher. Pat was then hired by the Michigan State Police and was initially assigned to the Capitol Security Detail. Eight years later, he attended the 98th Trooper Recruit School. Pat served as a trooper for the remainder of his career serving at State Police Posts in Erie, Sandusky, Northville, Flat Rock, Bridgeport, Ypsilanti, and Caro areas of Michigan. He attended Michigan State University’s Traffic Crash Reconstruction Program and was certified as an expert witness in several Michigan courts. Pat retired in 2010 after 35 years of public service. He is a correspondent for Law Enforcement Today and enjoys hunting, target shooting, and (most of all) sailing.

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