Chicago mayor wants cops to ask permission from a supervisor before chasing a suspect on foot

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CHICAGO, IL– Mayor Lori Lightfoot is considering a momentous change to a Chicago police procedure, stating she wants a revised policy in place before summer.

According to reports, the change in policy will require an officer to get a supervisor’s permission before beginning a foot chase. The issue gained new urgency after an officer reportedly chased and fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo. Lightfoot said:

“No one should die as a result of a foot chase.”

Since the fatal shooting, rewriting police policy on all foot chases has no become a hot topic at City Hall, with Lightfoot promising to announce details of a new policy “soon.”

Alderman Brian Hopkins said that an official in the mayor’s office told him officers could soon be required prior to a foot chase to do what is now required before a vehicle chase, which is getting permission from a supervisor. Hopkins added:

“Of course that raises obvious problems. In the time it would take to do that, the person you’re supposed to be chasing is actually long gone. The point would be moot then.”

Hopkins noted an unintended consequence of the new vehicle pursuit policy, stating:

“We’re seeing more vehicles flee from police officers because word has gotten out that they’re probably not going to get permission to chase you.”

On Monday, April 19th, Lightfoot commented on the “dilemma.” She said:

“I don’t want people out there who are dangerous to think, ‘well, if I just run, then I’m safe. I can continue to wreak havoc.’ We can’t live in that world either.”

Hopkins stated that is is past time to rewrite Chicago’s current “vague rules.” He added:

“I’m sure the officers themselves would agree with me. The more guidance we can give them, the more comfortable they’ll feel when they have to make these high-stakes decisions in the blink of an eye.”

ABC7 News reported that Sheila Bedi, a Clinical La Professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law said that community groups have been pushing for a formal foot pursuit policy since 2018, but that the city has balked. 

Currently, Chicago police only have a foot pursuit training bulletin. In it, officers are told:

“When making the decision to pursue or continue to pursue, the safety of the public, Department members, and the fleeing subject should be the foremost considerations.”

Nursrat Choudhury, Legal Director for ACLU Illinois added:

“It needs to make clear that valuing the sanctity of human life is a key consideration when officers are deciding whether to make a foot pursuit in the heat of the moment and similarly, if officers decide not to engage in a foot pursuit, it needs to be clear that they will not be disciplined.”

In the most recent report from the independent monitor overseeing Chicago police reforms, the data shows that from March through December 2020, there were 1,300 foot pursuits.

Nearly a third of them, 382, resulted in the use of force and there were 30 cases that resulted in the use of deadly force.

However, in the sudden rush to do something drastic after the Toledo case, there are concerns about getting too restrictive with a pursuit policy. State Rep. La Shawn Ford (D) said in a statement:

“We definitely need to have some form of pursuit, otherwise we will just let the bad actors get away.”

Alderman Ray Lopez, 15th Ward, added:

“If someone runs that is shooting, you give chase to apprehend. You don’t give them a pass. You don’t say it’s okay, we’ll just catch you on the next one.”

Lopez said that what happened to Toledo is tragic, but he is concerned about knee-jerk policy reactions. He said:

“The true issue here is that this officer didn’t go into the alley at 2:30 to chase someone just to shoot them. They were responding to a gang incident because a 21-year-old man was trying to recruit a 13-year-old boy to be part of a gang.”

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Again and again: Two more men charged with shooting people while free on bail for felony charges in Chicago

April 5th, 2021

CHICAGO, IL – Two more men have been charged with shooting people in Chicago while on bail for felony arrests, adding to a growing list of similar cases under Cook County’s restrictive bail rules. Illinois voted earlier this year to end cash bail by 2023.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a new law in February that not only institutes major police reforms but completely abolishes the state’s cash bail. The bill will go into effect in steps between July and 2023.

Democratic state Sen. Elgie Sims Jr., who sponsored the bill, said upon its passage:

“History will judge how we responded in this moment, which called for big, bold, transformative changes. This is not a moment for incrementalism, but one which calls for us to reimagine what public safety looks like in this great state.”

In Cook County, Chicago has been experiencing similar controversial bail restrictions for years under Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans. Evans ordered bail reform in the county in 2017.

Currently, under bail reform in Cook County, most defendants who pose no danger to the public are released from custody pending trial because monetary bail is a last resort, and any bail amounts are required to be set at an amount they can afford. 

According to CWB Chicago news station, two men just became the 13th and 14th persons charged with committing a shooting while on bail for other felonies this year.

On March 28, Joshua Castro, 19, shot a man in the ankle during a birthday celebration, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Burkhardt. Castro’s girlfriend was attending a birthday party for the victim on a party bus and called Castro to pick her up.

When Castro arrived, the girlfriend was escorted to his car by the birthday celebrant and another man. Burkhardt said the men walked with her to make sure she arrived safely.

Castro became upset and told the men that he was armed with a gun. The argument continued until Castro pulled the gun from his sweatshirt and fired one round. The bullet struck the ankle of the birthday celebrant.  The bullet passed through the victim’s ankle, and then struck another bystander.

Castro fled the scene but was arrested the following day.

Burkhardt said prosecutors decided against filing attempted murder charges and filed one count of aggravated battery by discharging a firearm.

At the time of the shooting, Castro was free on recognizance bond for a burglary case awaiting trial since January 21. Judge Susana Ortiz ordered Castro held without bail pending further court action.

On March 17, 22-year-old Cartez McGary was on bail when he shot a man during an armed robbery at a gas station. Authorities said surveillance video showed McGary lying in wait for his victim.

Prosecutors said the video showed McGary entering the store and observing the victim before exiting and moving his vehicle to the other side of the building. McGary covered his face with a COVID mask and put something in his waistband.

McGary waited outside the station until the victim left the store and got into his van. McGary then walked up to the man and pointed a gun in the victim’s face, demanding “everything he had,” prosecutors said.

McGary then fired one round at the victim’s head. The victim was able to lean back, causing the bullet to just graze his eyebrow. Surviving the near tragedy, the victim fought back. He grabbed McGary’s gun, and the men struggled. During the fight, McGary’s hoodie and mask came loose, allowing surveillance video to capture his appearance.

The victim was able to disarm McGary. McGary dropped his cell phone before running to his car and fleeing the scene.

Police were able to locate McGary through his cell phone, his vehicle’s license plate number, and his appearance captured on video. He was charged with aggravated battery by discharging a firearm, armed robbery by discharging a firearm, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and motor vehicle violations.

At the time of the robbery, McGary was on bond for felony fleeing and eluding. He was released after posting a $500 deposit.

In the current case, Judge Arthur Willis ordered McGary held without bail.

CWB Chicago news station has been reporting regularly on shootings committed by people released under the controversial new bail reform law.

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Officer shot, suspect is 11th Chicago resident charged with killing or trying to kill someone while on bail for another felony case

March 22, 2021

 

CHICAGO, IL- On Sunday, March 21st prosecutors charged a man with five counts of attempted murder after he reportedly shot a Chicago police officer, who responded to calls of shots fired on the West Side.

According to the state, 29-year-old Tracey Thomas Jr. also shot at a passing car, striking its passenger and narrowly missed shooting a Divvy bike rider in a ruse to draw police to the area. 

Court records show that Thomas has been at large on drug distribution charges since he stopped showing up for court appearances back in September 2020. He is the 11th person accused of killing or trying to kill someone in Chicago this year while on bond for another felony.

Prosecutors said that around 11:3o a.m. on Saturday, March 20th, a Divvy bike rider was traveling near the 200 block of North La Crosse when he heard a “click” and saw Thomas pointing a silver handgun at him.

Thomas allegedly fired a shot as the victim ducked out of the way, but the victim felt something pass through his clothing. The bike rider noticed a bullet hold in his clothing and fled as fast as he could while Thomas racked his gun, which had apparently jammed.

According to prosecutors, minutes later a woman was driving around the area searching for a parking spot when she heard a popping sounds. She stopped, thinking she had a tire problem. Her boyfriend got out of the car to look for any damage and as he did, someone shot him in his buttocks.

The couple fled the area and called for help. Meanwhile, a resident who saw Thomas firing at the couple, called the police.

Reportedly, two police officers and a Chicago Police Department (CPD) evidence technician were processing shell casings behind the resident’s house when they heard popping sounds and aw a bullet hold appear in one of their squad cars’ windows. All officers dove for cover. 

Other officers heard the gunfire and began chasing the gunman, who fled to a nearby home. From there, Thomas began firing at the officers from a first-floor window. One officer was shot in the hand.

While Thomas was inside of the home, he went on Facebook live where he admitted to shooting at people and pointed a chrome handgun at his own head. He was taken into custody outside the home after a stand-off.

During an interview with officers, he allegedly told them that he shot at the Divvy biker and the car passengers to lure police to the area so he could shoot at the cops and ultimately be killed by them.

Police recovered a handgun and ammunition from Thomas. Assistant Public Defender Courtney Smallwood said she believes Thomas has on-going psychiatric issues and that he has no previous violent crime convictions. 

Court records show that Thomas received a recognizance bond for narcotics distribution charges back in September 2019. In March 2020, he violated the terms of his bail and was put on electronic monitoring with another recognizance bond. 

In June 2020, Judge Ursula Walowski released Thomas from electronic monitoring and around September 2020, he stopped showing up to court. On September 16, 2020, Walowski issued an arrest warrant for Thomas.

On Sunday, March 21st, Judge Arthur Willis ordered Thomas held without bail on a bond forfeiture warrant in the pending manufacture-delivery case. The judge also ordered Thomas held without bail on the five attempted murder counts. 

Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown said that following Saturday’s shooting, over all 20 officers have been shot or shot at in 2021. Brown said that the officers involved will not be identified until families have been notified. He said:

“This really highlights the dangers, but it also highlights the bravery, dedication, and commitment officers have in really running towards danger to protect the people of Chicago.” 

 

 

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