Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot is asking the federal government to intervene and examine evidence after the Cook County States Attorney, Kim Foxx, refused to charge five men alleged to have taken part in a gang-related shooting that left at least one dead and two injured, because the individuals were engaged in “mutual combat.”
Foxx’s office “refused to charge five men arrested in connection with a gang-related gunfight that left at least one person dead and two wounded, even though police requested a number of felony charges for each individual suspect,” including murder and aggravated battery, the Daily Wire reported Wednesday. The five men were released.
Prosecutors initially said that they “determined that the evidence was insufficient to meet our burden of proof to approve felony charges,” but a memo released later noted that “[m]utual combatants was cited as the reason for the rejection,” suggesting that the men were not charged because they were only a danger to each other, despite the incident being related to ongoing gang violence.
Foxx said, in a press conference Wednesday, that prosecutors did not want to charge individuals if they could not also obtain a conviction, implying that prosecutors had not been given enough evidence in the case, that the suspects were not clearly visible police footage showing the shootout which circulated online, and that the five individuals were not cooperating with police.
Lightfoot said, late Thursday, that she was calling in the federal government to review the situation and appeared to suggest that she believed the footage, and several weapons the police confiscated off the five suspects matched weapons used at the crime scene.
“I’ve also reached out to the U.S. attorney to ask him to also evaluate the evidence that was there to see if there’s a possibility for federal charges,” Lightfoot said addressing the issue. “Whatever evidence that needs to be gathered, the police department is going to be Johnny on the spot and make sure we get it.”
The mayor, a former prosecutor, countered Foxx’s contention that the case against the five men was slim.
“This is, to me, a very compelling case,” Lightfoot said.
“Lightfoot noted that two suspects were ultimately found with guns ‘used in that firefight,’ a claim backed up with a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported. “She said investigators have also collected body-worn camera and dashcam video from officers in Chicago and Oak Park, where the source said one of the suspects was apprehended after crashing one of the Chargers.”
“[T]here are circumstances when we absolutely need to have a witness to identify who did something,” Lightfoot told media, adding that, in this case, there appear to be “multiple videotapes” of the encounter.
The Chicago Sun-Times noted that the U.S. Attorney had not yet indicated whether it would follow through on Lightfoot’s request. The federal government has been working in Chicago to identify sources of illegal weapons, and Lightfoot may have requested that the weapons obtained in this case be examined for potential charges related to an illegal weapons trafficking scheme.
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