Last Friday, rival members of the same gang engaged in a shootout in Chicago in broad daylight. One of the gang members died and SWAT had to be called in when one faction refused to leave a house where they were holed up. Police eventually collected 70 shell casings from the scene and wanted the survivors charged with murder. Instead, by Sunday they were released. State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, best known for her decision to drop charges against Jussie Smollett, had decided the gang members were “mutual combatants” and they were all released without charges.
In a statement later Sunday, Cristina Villareal, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, explained that prosecutors had “determined that the evidence was insufficient to meet our burden of proof to approve felony charges.” Police officials agreed with the decision, Villareal added.
While she wouldn’t specify what other evidence prosecutors needed to file charges, the police report acknowledged that victims of the shootout weren’t cooperating with investigators.
But the report also framed the state’s attorney’s office’s decision to decline charges in a different light: “Mutual combatants was cited as the reason for the rejection.” Mutual combat is a legal term used to define a fight or struggle that two parties willingly engage in.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wasn’t pleased with that outcome. She sent a letter to Kim Foxx asking her to reconsider and then spoke at a press conference warning that failure to bring charges would result in chaos. “There are people in our community who truly believe they are accountable to no one,” Lightfoot said. She continued, “They are brazen. They are reckless. They clearly have no regard for the sanctity of life and we cannot stand by and have them continue to wreak havoc.” A bit later she added, “If there is not fear of accountability, there is chaos.”
Kim Foxx’s office released a statement Monday night firing back at the Mayor. It said in part:
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. 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.
Today, Foxx gave a press conference at which she once again hit back at Mayor Lightfoot, essentially saying that, as of last week, the police agreed there was not enough evidence to bring charges in the case. However, she also promised the investigation would continue.
All of this is happening as shootings are up sharply in Chicago. Last week, Sen. Dick Durbin was right next to a car that suddenly opened fire.
“I heard a popping sound,” Durbin said. “I didn’t know what it was, but the driver of the car said, ‘Those were gunshots.’ And it turned out to be the car next to us, and the driver was leaning out the window and shooting a gun in the air. He could have just as easily been shooting a gun at us.”
David Axelrod to suggest Mayor Lightfoot should declare a state of emergency over public safety.
I’ll close with two more videos. First, a local news report about Mayor Lightfoot’s statement:
And here’s a separate report about what Kim Foxx said in response today.