Chicago’s Lightfoot, prosecutor Foxx in war of words after no charges are filed in gang shooting
Chicago gunfight caught on camera shows gang members shoot into house, prompting return fire.
After no charges were filed against warring gang members arrested and released following a deadly broad daylight shootout in a residential Chicago neighborhood, public quarreling between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx continued into its second day Tuesday, as Foxx called a rare news conference imploring the mayor to avoid trying the case in the media and “tell the truth.”
“I don’t usually do press conferences often,” Foxx said at a press conference in Englewood Tuesday. “I find myself here today having to respond to a narrative given by the mayor regarding a case that is still under investigation. It was inappropriate. It was wrong. As a prosecutor, who understands the oath, and as a former prosecutor discussing the facts of this case in the press without the benefit of all of the evidence does a disservice to the communities who have been impacted by this violence.”
“Our job is not simply to make an arrest but it is also to get a conviction,” Foxx said. “There were statements made by the mayor yesterday regarding the evidence in this case that were simply not true.”
Declining to discuss exactly which statements about the case were inaccurate, Foxx noted that Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan mentioned twice Monday that the evidence was insufficient for charges at the time on Friday following the shooting earlier in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side. The shooting captured on a city surveillance camera killed one and injured two others, who were among the total five brought into custody and later released when Foxx’s office declined to press charges.
“We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to ensure that the necessary work is done so that we may bring charges and ultimately secure a conviction for those that engage in the violence that we have seen across this city,” Foxx said. “That is our mission. It is not to try cases in the media nor to play politics on the deaths of children, and veterans, and people in our community.”
Since she’s taken office in 2016, Foxx said there have been 13,374 shootings across the city of Chicago through July of this year – but only 2,447 have resulted in an arrest. The state’s attorney also criticized Area 5 detectives for allegedly leaking information to the media in the past.
It was Area 5 detectives who have been at odds with Foxx in months past after her office declined to prosecute several high-profile cases, including the shootings of National Guard member Chrys Carvajal in July and 7-year-old Serenity Broughton in August, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Responding during an unrelated press conference in Pilsen later Tuesday, Lightfoot doubled down on her criticism of Foxx, telling reporters that the mayor’s office has requested that U.S. Attorney John Lausch review evidence in the gang shootout in Austin Friday.
“I’d like her to explain because I can’t explain it,” Lightfoot said, referring to Foxx’s decision not to pursue charges. “I’m getting calls from residents. I’m getting calls from other officials. We have to understand how it’s possible when this kind of shootout is captured on film that there were no charges on any person even though people were brought into custody and arrested.”
“Whatever evidence that needs to be gathered, the police department is going to be Johnny on the spot and make sure we get it,” Lightfoot said after appearing with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge at an unrelated event. “But this is, to me, a very compelling case.”
Lightfoot also responded to a question about Deenihan, who reportedly said video of the shooting wasn’t clear enough to pursue charges. The mayor insisted that Deenihan’s superior, Chicago police Superintendent David Brown, believed otherwise.
“The question I might have for him [Deenihan] when I see him shortly, candidly, is in Beverly, Mount Greenwood, anywhere in the North Side, would there really be no clarity?” Lightfoot said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The feud between the two Democratic powerhouses started when Lightfoot during a press conference Monday called out the prosecutor for not pressing charges despite there being video of the shooting.
The mayor and five alderman also penned a letter to Foxx imploring that she reconsider charges against at least the offenders who first fired into a residential home around 11 a.m. The letter says the gangbangers were attempting to draw out members of a rival faction, who returned fire, and a gun battle ensued, spraying more than 70 rounds onto the street.
Uniformed officers in a marked squad car were also on the scene within a short period of time and witnessed the activity, the letter says. SWAT was called when those inside the house refused to exit, which gave time for them to stash their weapons. Only gun cases, but no firearms, were found inside.
Foxx previously cited “mutual combatants” in her decision not to press charges, a legal term referring to when both parties enter into a fight willingly upon equal terms, but the mayor insisted that individuals who initiated the gunfire were not mutual combatants and weren’t firing in self-defense.
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