Detective Shot in the Head in 2001 Dies

Brain injuries crippled veteran detective

A 25-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, gravely injured in 2001 when shot in a confrontation with a  bank robber, has died.

Joseph Airhart Jr., 53, survived for seven years with severe brain injuries.  While he made some progress, he suffered numerous setbacks.  His family said in 2006 that he was unable to walk or feed himself, and that he was breathing only with the help of a ventilator.

He died on Tuesday afternoon.

On Aug. 28, 2001, Detective Airhart, then 45, was detailed to the FBI Bank Robbery Task Force. That day, he was part of a five-man crew trying to arrest Daniel Salley, a former tax consultant wanted in connection with several bank robberies.

They tracked Salley to his fiancee's apartment on South Wabash Avenue, and Airhart made the first contact, posing as a neighbor trying to deliver an errant package.

Salley ran into a bedroom in the apartment and opened fire.

After Airhart was shot in the head, more than two hours passed before he Salley finally allowed emergency crews in to take the injured officer from the apartment.  

Funeral Arrangements Announced

The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation announced a wake will be held for Detective Joseph Airhart Jr. at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave. on Nov. 10 from 3-9 p.m.

Also on Wednesday, the Foundation presented a check in the amount of $50,000 to the Airhart family, according to a release.

Copyright CHIST - SunTimes
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