Chicago, IL – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is furious that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx opted not to charge those involved in a midday gun battle between rival gangs in the Austin neighborhood on Friday that left one person dead and five more wounded.
Foxx’s office released five suspects in a deadly shooting that occurred on Oct. 1 after refusing to charge the men with first-degree murder or any other felony, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Sources said police sought to charge all five of the suspects in custody with murder and aggravated battery.
But on Sunday, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Cristina Villareal told reporters that prosecutors had “determined that the evidence was insufficient to meet our burden of proof to approve felony charges,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Villareal also claimed that Chicago Police Department (CPD) officials had agreed with that decision.
She said the decision not to charge the five men was made because the people who were killed were “mutual combatants,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Lightfoot, a former prosecutor, demanded answers from the city’s top prosecutor about why Foxx had cited the suspects as “mutual combatants” and opted not to press charges against anyone involved despite the fact Chicago police officers had been on the scene and the mayhem was captured on video, FOX News reported.
“She’s got to explain to the public, why? Given that evidence, a pod camera right there that captured the entire thing and police officers on the scene in uniform, and a squad car there, why that isn’t enough?” the mayor asked at a press conference on Monday.
“If the bad guys that are out there that are picking up guns and shooting without any regard for the sanctity of life, do not believe that there’s accountability for them, the brazenness will not end. It will escalate, it will continue and our communities will not be safe,” Lightfoot continued.
Police recovered more than 70 shell casings from the street, but that number didn’t include the shell casings that were found inside the house, FOX News reported.
“It’s just like the Wild West,” a source told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Having looked at this, gotten a deep understanding from the detectives that were doing the investigation, it’s really hard to understand that decision,” the mayor told reporters. “It’s complicated, for sure. But 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 and five alderman representing areas nearby where the incident occurred sent a letter to Foxx’s office that implored the state’s attorney reconsider murder charges against at least the two surviving aggressors, FOX News reported.
“We can’t live in a world where there is no accountability,” the mayor said. “When there’s no accountability, meaning individuals who wreak havoc, who fire indiscriminately or fire at a target but without any regard for the sanctity of life and the health and well-being of others, if they 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 the city into chaos. We cannot let that happen.”
Police said the gunfight started in the Austin neighborhood at about 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 1 after three members of one gang opened fire into a house with fully automatic weapons in an attempt to draw out members of a rival faction in the same gang, FOX News reported.
A police report said two Dodge Chargers driven by members of the Body Snatchers faction of the Four Corner Hustlers exchanged words with members of the gang’s Jack Boys set in the 1200-block of North Mason Avenue, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
When all was finished, one man was dead and five more were wounded.
Once the gun battle ended, suspects inside the house refused to come out and the SWAT team had to be brought in.
The politicians’ letter to Foxx suggested that the suspects had entirely too much time to destroy evidence and get rid of guns while they waited for SWAT to arrive and called on the state’s attorney to investigate, FOX News reported.
But Foxx stood firm on her decision and doubled down on the criticism by Lightfoot.
“As a former federal prosecutor, the mayor knows of the ethical obligation of the prosecutor to only bring forth charges where the facts, evidence and law support it,” Foxx said. “She is also fully aware that as a prosecutor we are obligated not to try cases in the media. It is unclear why she has chosen to make such statements, especially absent the full information that was presented to our office by CPD.”
“The facts the mayor presented today simply are not in line with what was presented to us by CPD, and not born out by the evidence we received,” she continued. “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, she knows that.”
The state’s attorney said that police who were on the scene couldn’t determine how the events unfolded because things were so chaotic, despite the gunfight having been captured on video by police department POD cameras, FOX News reported.
“We reviewed the evidence that was presented to us in consultation with the detectives and they agreed we were unable to approve charges based on the evidence presented,” Foxx wrote. “However, as always, as additional evidence is gathered we stand ready to bring charges when appropriate.”