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The Forest Park Police Department color guard held a memorial service, Saturday, commemorating the 30th anniversary of an officer killed in the line of duty in 1982. Gathered at Hillside’s Mt. Carmel Cemetery were officers and family members of Officer Michael Caulfield, 22, who was killed on Sept. 30, 1982 by a prisoner in the police department interrogation room.

According to reports at the time, Caulfield, a rookie who had graduated from the Police Academy three weeks before, was on patrol with his training officer, James McNally after midnight when they arrested Orin Dominguez who had an outstanding warrant from Chicago police.

According to reports, the officers removed Dominguez’s handcuffs in the interrogation room and sat him in a chair 10 feet away. When a second officer, James Sebastian, entered the room with a prisoner, Dominguez allegedly rose from the chair, asking for a cigarette and snatched the service revolver from Sebastian’s holster with both hands and began to fire. He shot Sebastian in the foot and Caulfield was hit in the head.

As Caulfield fell, he dropped his revolver, which Dominguez picked up and began firing with both guns, shooting 12 bullets in all. Officer McNally shot and killed Dominguez, who had a record of 26 arrests, including robbery, burglary and narcotics.

Commended later as a hero was the second civilian, Charles Olivieri, 31 of Hillside, who was there to be questioned for a local ordinance violation. Officers said he leapt unarmed onto Dominguez and prevented him from firing more accurately at the officers.

“Without him it would have been a complete blood bath,” said Sgt. Charles Whelpley at the time.

McNally was “saved by his badge” according to reports. A bullet struck the badge on his chest and ricocheted down his forearm.

Caulfield grew up in Oak Park with four siblings, but his parents, John and Rosemary Caulfield, lived in Mt. Prospect at the time. They told the newspaper their son had wanted more than anything to be a police officer and had graduated from Southern Illinois University. Caulfield’s funeral was held at St. Raymond de Penafort in Mt. Prospect. More than 200 police vehicles formed a motorcade to Mt. Carmel cemetery after the services.

Caulfield’s death changed how Forest Park police deal with their weapons around prisoners, said Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas.

Aftanas said police holsters are now more sophisticated. “The gun just came right out back then. With the new holsters you have to twist to get the weapon out.”

Another key procedure also changed. “Now you lock up your weapon [in a locker] every time there’s a prisoner in the back,” he said. “I can’t say the Forest Park incident had anything to do with it nationally, but it’s a best practice in every department I’ve been in.”

 

Michael Caulfield1960-1982

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...