Springfield, IL – The Illinois Prisoner Review Board granted parole to two convicted cop killers on Thursday.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx only opposed to one of the convicted murderers being released and said this week she will no longer make any recommendations to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, calling the practice a “relic” of the past, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Former Chicago Police Superintendent Phil Cline objected to both parole requests.
“Clearly, the intent of the court was for these murderers to pay for the lives they stole with life in prison,” said Cline, who now operates the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
“The decision to let these killers off the hook is a direct conflict with the judges’ intent,” Cline told the Chicago Sun-Times after the parole board’s decision on Thursday. “More importantly, allowing these men to be free sends a troubling message to the families of these officers that their sacrifice and the lives of their loved ones are somehow insignificant.”
Gang member Johnny Veal and an accomplice fatally shot Chicago Police Sergeant James Severin, 38, and Officer Anthony Rizzato, 37, with .30-caliber rifles as the officers were walking across a baseball diamond in the Cabrini-Green housing complex on July 17, 1970, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
This year will mark the 50th anniversary of #ChicagoPolice Sgt. James Severin and Officer Anthony Rizzato’s line of duty deaths. As #NationalPoliceWeek comes to a close, we take a moment to remember them and all those who gave their lives to protect this city. #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/ljc3K3fspA
— Chicago Police (@Chicago_Police) May 16, 2020
The killers were perched in a nearby apartment building at the time of the attacks and shot the officers from a window, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The motive behind the shooting was to seal a pact between two rival gangs.
Veal, who was 17 at the time of the murders, was sentenced to 100 to 199 years in prison.
Foxx notified the Illinois Prisoner Review Board last year that she “strongly opposed” parole for 68-year-old Veal, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Foxx said Veal, who has bragged about the murders, proclaimed his innocence when he saw the board and tried to convince them that he and his co-defendant were beaten by police during questioning.
Foxx said there is absolutely no evidence to substantiate Veal’s police brutality claims, but noted there was plenty of evidence to support his murder conviction.
She described the murders as “a cold-blooded execution,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The board ultimately decided to set Veal free on parole.
The second convicted murder the board opted to turn loose into the community on Thursday was 77-year-old Joseph Hurst, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Chicago Police Officer Herman Stallworth, 28, was fatally shot in the chest during a traffic stop on May 24, 1967, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
— NYPD Guardians Assoc (@GuardiansNYPD) May 24, 2017
Hurst then fired his gun at Officer Stallworth’s partner, hitting him between the eyes, before he took off on foot, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
He ended up barricading himself in a building and fired at more officers until he ran out of ammunition and surrendered, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The second officer Hurst shot survived his wounds.
Hurst, a former Iowa State University basketball star, was sentenced to death for Officer Stallworth’s murder.
“Life and death is in God’s hands,” Hurst told the judge at the time, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I may have been an instrument in [Stallworth’s] death, but it must have been his time to go.”
When the U.S. Supreme Court placed a moratorium on the death penalty in 1974, Hurst’s sentence was commuted to 100 to 300 years, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
He was denied parole over 30 times in the years that followed.
Foxx sent a letter to the board earlier this month saying she “does not oppose the granting of parole” to Hurst, even while acknowledging that “the victim’s family strongly objects to a grant of parole,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The prosecutor refused to provide a reason for reversing her stance.
“The state’s attorney’s office determined we would not oppose parole; our lack of opposition should not be construed as a show of support but rather the office’s position that we would no longer actively object,” her office said in a statement.
Foxx also refused to “oppose the granting of parole” in 2020 in the case of 62-year-old Ronnie Carrasquillo, who was convicted of fatally shooting Chicago Police Officer Terrence Loftus in October of 1976, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Officer Loftus, 38, was shot in the spine while trying to break up a gang fight, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
👮🏻♂️💙🚔 #ThisDayInHistory 🚔💙👮🏻♂️#AlwaysRemember#NeverForgotten #FallenHero #Chicago #CPD #ChicagoPolice #Officer #Terrence_E_Loftus #EOW Oct 12, 1976@ChicagoPD19 @BFTFChicago @bftfnyc @BFTF_Dallas @ChicagoPD19 @Brotherhoodfwt2 @cpdmemorial @FOP7Chicago pic.twitter.com/Y9suQOLxHj
— Chicago's Finest👮🏻 (@ChicagoPD19) October 13, 2019
Carrasquillo was subsequently sentenced to 200 to 600 years in prison.
The board denied his parole request in September of last year, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.