CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot and State’s Attorney Kim Foxx met Thursday night to discuss a West Side shooting — and top police officials confirmed there is not enough evidence for charges, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Lightfoot and Foxx have been in a standoff over a shooting that happened last week on the West Side. Though police saw the gun battle, which left one person dead, and three people were temporarily taken into custody, no charges have been filed by the State’s Attorney’s Office.
Lightfoot has said she’s confused by that choice and worried it could embolden criminals. She has repeatedly pressed Foxx’s office to file charges.
But Foxx has maintained there isn’t enough evidence for charges, saying police acknowledged that when meeting with prosecutors. She also criticized Lightfoot, saying the mayor, a former prosecutor, knows it’s inappropriate to talk about cases publicly.
That led to back-and-forth between the two Democrats at news conferences, in emailed statements and even in a campaign email from Lightfoot.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s Illinois branch also criticized Lightfoot’s comments, saying Lightfoot and Supt. David Brown “need to end the finger-pointing” over Chicago’s violence.
Clouding the issue was where police officials stood. Lightfoot said the department’s top brass wanted at least some charges, while Foxx said investigators had brought murder charges to her office and acknowledged they didn’t have the evidence they needed.
Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan told alderpeople during a budget hearing this week the evidence was “convoluted” because the police camera didn’t clearly show who was firing and the people arrested 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 … .”
Finally, on Thursday night, Lightfoot, Foxx, Brown and Deenihan met with prosecutors to discuss the case.
The prosecutors, Brown and Deenihan “provided the mayor with all of the evidence that has thus far been gathered in the Austin shooting,” Foxx’s office said in an emailed statement Friday. “As from the very beginning, CPD continued to agree that there is insufficient evidence for charges at this time and informed the mayor as such.”
Lightfoot’s office did not answer specific questions about the meeting but issued a statement.
“We are all committed to doing whatever we can to ensure that our communities are safe and that we reduce violence in our city,” Lightfoot and Brown said, according to the statement. “We had a very productive meeting and shared perspectives towards that common goal. We will continue to strengthen our collaboration on behalf of the residents of Chicago.”
Despite the public feud, Foxx and Lightfoot have repeatedly said they’d continue to collaborate to hold violent offenders accountable.
And Foxx’s office said they’re still working with officers as they investigate the West Side shooting and determine what charges, if any, can be pursued.
“Throughout the conversation, State’s Attorney Foxx and Mayor Lightfoot renewed their commitment to work collaboratively to address violence in the community,” according to the State’s Attorney’s Office.
At the heart of the issue is Chicago’s years-long struggles with gun violence. Scholars, violence prevention activists and other experts have long said disinvestment, trauma, systemic racism and other factors fuel violence in the city, and communities and residents need mental health help, support systems and investment to prevent more losses.
Lightfoot and Foxx — who have supported each other in the past, with Lightfoot endorsing Foxx’s 2020 re-election bid — have expressed those same concerns at times.
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.
At the same time, 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.
The shooting behind Lightfoot and Foxx’s back-and-forth 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.
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