CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot criticized State’s Attorney Kim Foxx on Monday for her office not pressing charges in a West Side shooting — but Foxx said Lightfoot’s version of the story does not match reality.
The two have traded barbs for months while Chicago’s violence has skyrocketed. But Lightfoot’s comments were among her most direct: She said the lack of charges in the shooting were “of deep concern to me” and she did not understand that decision.
“If [offenders] do not feel like the criminal justice system is going to hold them accountable, we’re going to see a level of brazenness that will send this city into chaos,” Lightfoot said at an unrelated news conference.
Afterward, Foxx sent out a statement saying Lightfoot, herself a former prosecutor, knows officials are “obligated not to try cases in the media.” She also said the mayor’s version of the story is “not in line with what was presented to us by [police], and not born out by the evidence we received.”
The shooting in question happened Friday morning in the 1200 block of North Mason Avenue. Officers there saw four people get out of two cars and shoot into a home on the block; people inside the home then shot back, hitting one man, police said. The other gunmen took off in their cars.
The man was pronounced dead at a hospital. Two people from inside the home were also shot and were hospitalized.
One of the people who had been in a car and two people from the home were taken into custody, police said. A police camera also recorded the shooting.
No charges have been filed against those people or others.
“We really urge the state’s attorney herself to get personally involved, look at the evidence. And I believe that there are charges that can be brought at a minimum against the individuals who initiated the gunfire,” Lightfoot said.
But Foxx said detectives met with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and “acknowledged at the outset” they weren’t yet certain how the shooting unfolded. The officials reviewed the evidence and, “in consultation with the detectives,” prosecutors and police agreed they could not yet approve charges, Foxx said.
“However, as always, as additional evidence is gathered we stand ready to bring charges when appropriate,” Foxx said. “The staggering violence that is devastating our communities is horrific; however, we must still adhere to both our ethical and legal standards in evaluating charges.
“As a former prosecutor, [Lightfoot] knows that.”
Lightfoot wasn’t alone in her criticism: She and several aldermen sent a letter to Foxx’s office asking her to charge people in the shooting.
And at a police budget hearing Monday, Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) questioned why charges hadn’t been brought in the case, saying he is worried there will be more violence.
Supt. David Brown told alderpeople the shooting was between “mutual combatants,” making it difficult to determine who’d started the violence and who was acting in self-defense. Police try to get everyone charged in those instances, he said.
“We want to charge everyone, we want the judge and the courts to sort it out, not to anticipate what might happen before a jury or a judge,” Brown said. At another point, he said, “Likely, there are things we need to do more to present the case. And we’re willing to do that.”
Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan also told alderpeople the evidence was “convoluted” because the police camera didn’t clearly show who was firing and the arrested people did not speak to investigators.
“Specifically for this case, you can’t determine who is discharging a firearm on the street from those cars,” Deenihan said. “Even the victims who were shot refused to talk to police, and [they invoked] their right to remain silent. And that’s where it gets difficult for the detectives to present a case … .”
Still, in Lightfoot and the alderpeople’s letter to Foxx, they said Brown and Deenihan did not support the lack of charges in the case.
Lightfoot and Foxx, both Democrats, have had a rocky relationship, though Lightfoot endorsed Foxx during her contentious re-election bid in 2019.
But as violence surged in 2020 and 2021, the mayor and Brown have pointed fingers at the justice system, saying violent offenders are being released by lenient judges and it is contributing to gun crime.
But they have not provided evidence of those claims — and studies have shown they are not true. A report from Loyola University found just 3 percent of defendants let out on bond committed another offense during their pre-trial period.
Still, Foxx has come under heavy criticism for her office not charging people in various cases. The family of Chrys Carvajal, a National Guard soldier who was killed this summer, has called on her to file murder charges in the case; and Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) said Foxx’s office “has to do their job” and file charges in the murder of 7-year-old Serenity Broughton.
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