Accused Straw Buyer In Chicago Cop Killing Released On $4500 Bond

AP Photo/Teresa Crawford

The Indiana man accused of supplying the gun that was used to kill Chicago police officer Ella French is still facing charges of conspiracy to violate federal firearms laws, but he won’t be awaiting trial from behind bars. On Wednesday a federal judge set bond for Jamel Danzy at just $4,500, allowing Danzy to be released from jail while the criminal case against him proceeds (though the judge did order that Danzy be under court supervision).

While the two brothers who are accused of murdering French during a traffic stop are being held without bond, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown slammed the judge’s decision on Danzy’s criminal charges in a public statement on Wednesday afternoon, accusing the magistrate of “doing a disservice” to French’s memory.

When I heard this afternoon that a federal judge had released the man who illegally purchased and then supplied the gun used to murder Officer Ella French, I could not believe it.

To say that I am extremely disappointed in U.S Magistrate Judge Jeffery Gilbert’s decision to release Jamel Danzy on an unsecured bond today is an understatement. Danzy was released on a $4,500 unsecured bond and court supervision.

It is an outrage.

This decision sets a dangerous precedent that straw purchasers like Danzy are not a danger to society, despite the fact that his alleged actions directly led to the murder of a Chicago Police Officer and left another in critical condition.

The outrageous abundance of illegal firearms in our city and our nation is a major factor driving the violence that is continually cutting short the lives of our loved ones and fellow human beings.

The role of the justice system, particularly that of federal prosecutors and judges is more important than ever, and by allowing Mr. Danzy to walk free the court has done a disservice to Officer French’s memory, to the entire Chicago Police Department, and to the thousands of men and women across the country who work around the clock, day in and day out to stem the violence that is plaguing our communities.

I completely understand why Brown calls Danzy’s low bond an outrage, but the truth is that the judge’s decision in this case hardly sets a precedent. As we mentioned yesterday, light sentences aren’t uncommon when it comes to straw purchases, so a low bond before a trial takes place shouldn’t come as a shock either. In fact, just this week a now-former police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma was sentenced in a straw purchase case and found out she won’t have to do any prison time at all.

Chief U.S. District Judge John F. Heil sentenced Latoya Dythe, 27, on Tuesday. In April, Dythe pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make a false statement to a firearms dealer and to false statement to a firearms dealer.

In a written plea, Dythe admitted to accepting cash from her boyfriend at the time, 28-year-old Devon Jones, to buy a 28mm handgun from Bass Pro Shops in April 2020. On required federal purchase forms, Dythe marked that the gun was for her.

“Too often, straw purchases are linked to gun violence within communities across our nation. Latoya Dythe’s choice to illegally purchase a firearm on behalf of another not only ended her career as a Tulsa police officer, but also placed Tulsans at risk,” acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma Clint Johnson said in a statement.

In another federal case that wrapped up just a few weeks ago, a man who sought a straw buyer who could purchase a pistol for him received probation, as did the woman who actually engaged in the straw buy itself.

Keep in mind; taking part in a straw purchase is punishable by up to ten years in a federal prison. Clearly, though, the maximum possible sentence isn’t a guarantee of a guilty party doing any time at all behind bars. That’s a much bigger issue than a federal judge deciding that Jamel Danzy isn’t a flight risk or a danger to the community, and if Brown is outraged over Danzy’s pre-trial release, he’d better prepare himself for distinct possibility that even a guilty plea or a conviction won’t lead to a long stay in a prison cell.