Death Classification: Performance of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 20 years, 1 month, 14 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 22nd District - Morgan Park
District of Incident (Present Day): 008 - Chicago Lawn
Cause of Death: Illness - Cardiac Arrest
Age at Time of Death: 45
Date of Birth: 01 Mar 1941
Date of Appointment: 13 Jun 1966
Date of Incident: 27 Jul 1986
End of Watch: 27 Jul 1986
Date of Interment: 31 Jul 1986
Cemetery: Resurrection Catholic Cemetery - Justice, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 1, Lot 7, Block 32, Section 59
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-9
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 10
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 41
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 9-E: 9
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: U.S. Marine Corps
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman George T. Bryja, Star #12557, aged 45 years, was a 20 year, 1 month, 14 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 22nd District – Morgan Park.
On July 27, 1986, at 3:00 a.m., Officer Bryja was off duty at home, 6612 South Artesian Avenue, when he was awakened by the sound of his wife’s car alarm. His wife set the alarm off to summon Officer Bryja when she drove up to the house. Mrs. Brunkella observed two men trying to set a neighbor’s garage on fire after spray-painting it with graffiti. Officer Bryja and his 18-year-old son chased the vandals through an alley for four blocks before losing them. When he returned home, he began complaining of chest pains, started to sweat profusely, vomited and then collapsed. At 4:30 a.m., Officer Bryja was transported to Holy Cross Hospital by CFD Ambulance #18 where he was pronounced dead by Dr. A. Shah at 4:51 a.m. on July 27, 1986.
On July 29, 1986, Area 3 detectives located and arrested two juveniles, ages 15 and 16, who were charged with Criminal Damage to Property. The two youths gave a full confession and also claimed there was a thrid boy, age 12, with them at the time of the incident whom was their lookout. On July 31, 1986, the third juvenile, age 13, was identified and arrested. He was also charged with Criminal Damage to Property. Felony charges were denied on all three juveniles by A.S.A. Sublett. All three boys were taken to the Audy home to await their appearance in Juvenile Court on April 30, 1987.
Officer Bryja was waked at Blake-Lamb Funeral Home located at 4727 West 103rd Street, Oak Lawn, Illinois. His funeral mass was held at Five Holy Martyres Church located at 4327 South Richmond Street. He was laid to rest on July 31, 1986 in Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, 7201 Archer Avenue, Justice, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 1, Lot 7, Block 32, Section 59.
Patrolman George T. Bryja, born March 1, 1941, received his Probationary Appointment to the Department on June 13, 1966. He earned 1 Department Commendation and various other awards during his career.
Officer Bryja served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1959 to 1963 and was Honorably Discharged. He was also a member of the Fraternal Order of Police. Officer Bryja was survived by his wife, Sharon A. (nee Carlson); children: John, age 18 and Peggy A., age 14 and siblings: Anna Mary and Stephanie. His son would later become a Chicago Police Officer. He was preceded in death by his parents: John and Mary (nee Borkowski).
Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department RD #H328736 and H328740.
On March 2, 2010, Officer Bryja’s star was retired by Superintendent Jody P. Weis and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at Chicago Police Headquarters, 3510 South Michigan Avenue.