Officials: ‘Superhero’ cop chased murder suspect even after he was shot


CHICAGO, IL- Some heroes do not wear capes. Such is the case of a Chicago police sergeant who has not been publicly identified as of yet.

According to the Chicago Tribune, on Wednesday, the sergeant was in plain clothes and in an unmarked police SUV. While on patrol about 2:30 p.m. in the 4000 block of West Madison Street, he heard a gunshot and witnessed a man, later identified as 35-year-old Walter Johnson, shoot and kill Devel Hill, 26, on the sidewalk.

The sergeant then saw Johnson run to a white pickup truck that was parked in an alley and followed him in his SUV, according to prosecutors.

At some point, Johnson noticed he was being followed, stopped the pickup and then exited the truck and walked up to the sergeant’s SUV and began firing. The sergeant suffered a graze wound to his arm near the shoulder and was also struck in the wrist.

After shooting the officer, Johnson sped off again. Responding officers picked up their wounded comrade and were in the process of taking him to the hospital when the sergeant spotted the white pickup truck on Interstate 290.

The two officers who picked him up asked the injured sergeant if he wanted to go to the hospital or try to chase the suspect.

“The sergeant responded that they should forgo the hospital and continue on to apprehend (Johnson),” Assistant State’s Attorney Margaret Hillman said on Friday.

They pursued the pickup until it crashed into several cars and a semi-truck, and then a tree on West Congress Parkway, according to police.

Johnson ran from the vehicle, holding a red hoodie that he was wearing at the time of the initial shooting, then threw it to the ground as officers pursued him. As he did so, a 9mm handgun fell from the sweatshirts pocket to the ground.

The gun was recovered and matched with the shell casings found at the scene of both the homicide, as well as the shooting of the police officer. The gun had an “extended” magazine and a laser sight.

Johnson and a female companion in the pickup truck were taken into custody and the sergeant was transported to the hospital, where he was reported in stable condition.

Johnson appeared in court Friday, where bail was denied for the seven-time convicted felon. In court, Judge John F. Lyke praised the wounded officer, calling him a “superhero” for pursing the suspect after he was shot and wounded instead of going to the hospital.

Johnson was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder of a police officer, aggravated battery with a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.

Judge Lyke cited Johnson’s lengthy criminal history of felony convictions, as well as witness statements and video surveillance cameras that captured some of the event in denying him bail.

The woman who was in the car with Johnson told police that Johnson had picked her up and told her he needed to see his brother-in-law, according to prosecutors.

She said that Johnson drove to the corner of Wilcox Street and Karlov Avenue, where he left her waiting in the car. Not long afterward, she heard gunshots, prosecutors said.

Ironically, the death of Hill came almost exactly two years after his brother Devin’s, who was also fatally shot in West Garfield Park.

According to court records Johnson, a father of four, has dozens of arrests dating back to 2002, with at least seven convictions.

Among the convictions was a 2007 case for aggravated fleeing or eluding, for which he received probation; a 2007 aggravated battery to a police officer for which he received community service; a 2009 manufacture or delivery of heroin, which carried a four-year sentence, and a 2014 manufacture or delivery of heroin or cocaine, which netted him a four-year sentence.

He also has three convictions for driving on a suspended or revoked license.

It’s the second such hero story in a week.  The first came out of Coldwater, Mississippi during a “routine” traffic stop involving a 22-year-old suspect.

An unidentified officer conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in what was reported to be a “routine” stop.  While dealing with the driver and occupant of that vehicle, an unrelated green truck pulled up next to him.

For reasons not yet known, the driver of the truck got out and approached the officer while holding a knife.

The officer ordered the driver to put the knife down.  Instead, the driver walked back to his truck and pulled out a shotgun.

The officer moved away from the original traffic stop vehicle as the driver of the truck shot at the officer.  The suspect shot twice at the officer, hitting him once in the head. 

The officer shot back and hit the suspect in the torso area.  The suspect got back into his truck and fled the scene, but crashed into a ditch about a quarter of a mile away.  He was then taken into custody without further incident and was transported to the hospital.

District Attorney John Champion praised the officer, saying:

“He moved to the right and I’m of the opinion, and we’ll know more when we talk to him, that the reason he did this was to get those two people [inside of the traffic stop vehicle] out of potential line of fire.

And there was fire and they were not hurt.  From what it appears to me, is that the officer was a target of opportunity because he [the suspect] saw him on the side of the road.”

“Fate was on his [the officer’s] side, continued Champion.  “That’s all I can say. The good Lord wasn’t ready to take him today because the shots were fired at relatively close range.”

The officer was, thankfully, treated for minor wounds and released from the hospital.

Champion also said, “A lot doesn’t happen here and when you see something of this magnitude happen, it really makes you think no place is safe from things like his happening.  It just gives you a better appreciation of what these officers have to face on a day-to-day basis out there on the street.”

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The suspect is still in the hospital recovering from emergency surgery.  Investigators are hoping he survives so they can attempt to find out the motivation for the attack.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has taken over the officer-involved shooting.

“There really is no routine stop and you have to watch your surroundings, and this the perfect example, it speaks to that,” said Coldwater Police Chief Undra Todd.

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