New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Friday, July 12, 2024
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1889 David C. Hennessey becomes the city’s first Superintendent of Police

On March 13, 1889, the city’s first Superintendent of Police, David C.
Hennessey, was appointed to the position by Mayor Joseph H. Shakspear. On the
evening of Oct. 15, 1890, at 11:25 p.m., he was shot, allegedly by the New
Orleans Mafia.

Hennessey was a tireless and fearless worker in his pursuits of stamping out organized crime. In carrying out his duties, he, of course, made many enemies.

On the evening of Oct. 15, 1890, at 11:25 p.m., he was gunned down on his way home. Although he was hit by shotgun blasts from many different directions, he was able to draw his pistol and return fire. While he lay prostrate in the street, more bullets were pumped into his body. He was later rushed to the hospital, but all efforts to save him were futile. He died the next day.

Nineteen Italians believed to be part of the underworld that operated in New Orleans were tried, 10 for murder and nine for conspiracy. All were acquitted of the crimes but held in jail on other counts. On March 14, 1891, a mob of outraged citizens stormed the jail seeking their own form of justice. They were outraged at the acquittals and took the law into their own hands. Upon entering the jail, they shot nine and hanged two of the believed killers of Hennessey.

The Italian government was appalled and broke diplomatic relations with the United States government. In time, the United States government paid financial restitution for the 11 Italians murdered even though found innocent by a court of law. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were then resumed.

Source: Buddy Stall at
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