Chicago Prosecutor Drops Charges In Gang Shooting, Claiming Mutual Combat

AP Photo/Teresa Crawford

A shootout between suspected gang members in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood last Friday was caught on camera and ended with the arrest of three suspects has become the latest flashpoint between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Just two days after the arrests were reported, the prosecutor dropped all charges, claiming that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone. A police report noted, however, that Foxx’s office also said the charges wouldn’t be pursued because the two sides were engaged in “mutual combat”; a fight in which both parties willingly take part.

On Monday Lightfoot blasted that decision, noting that the facts as presented don’t line up with Foxx’s claims.

Around 10:30 a.m. Friday, members of the Body Snatchers faction of the Four Corner Hustlers drove to the 1200 block of North Mason Avenue in two Dodge Chargers and began shooting into a home using handguns that were modified into automatic weapons, according to an internal police report and a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation. Members of the rival Jack Boys faction then fired back from inside the home.

More than 70 shell casings were found outside the home, according to the source, who noted that total likely doesn’t include the number of shots that were fired from inside. Three men were struck, including a member of the Body Snatchers who died. The gun battle, which was caught on police POD camera, only came to a halt when a police cruiser pulled up.

One of the Chargers was later found torched, while the other was recovered after the driver crashed during a chase with Oak Park police, the source and the report noted. The driver was taken into custody, along with a wounded man he dropped off at a hospital in the western suburb.

The Jack Boys, meanwhile, refused to leave the home on Mason, causing a standoff that required a SWAT team to respond, according to the source and the report. Three suspects were ultimately arrested, including a man who was wounded, though Lightfoot and the alderpersons acknowledged police did not recover any guns inside the home.

This sounds to me like it’s a case of attempted murder on the part of the Body Snatchers, and self-defense on the part of the Jack Boys members inside the home. And amazingly, Lori Lightfoot and several Chicago alderman seem to agree.

Lightfoot and five Chicago aldermen wrote a letter to Foxx Monday, in which they voiced disagreement with the assessment, saying “the individuals who initiated the gunfire are not ‘mutual combatants and ‘certainly were not firing in self-defense.”

The city officials said they simply don’t understand the decision not to seek felony charges, such as attempted murder, against the remaining two offenders who initiated the gunfight.

“Giving these kinds of violent offenders a pass when their crime is fully captured on video and with police on the scene is completely unacceptable,” they said, in part. “…This kind of brazen violence must be met with a swift and certain accountability through felony charges. Anything short of that invites more lawlessness and more brazenness which too many communities are experiencing in this time.”

I don’t know that I’ve ever actually typed these words before, but I agree with Lori Lightfoot here. I completely understand not filing charges against those inside the home who fired back at the gang members who were pouring rounds of ammunition into the house, but not prosecuting those who drove up to the residence and opened fire makes no sense to me at all.

According to Foxx, that’s because the mayor has it all wrong.

Foxx responded in a statement, saying the facts presented by Mayor Lightfoot aren’t in line with the information provided to prosecutors by Chicago police.

“The detectives reached out to our office on Friday and acknowledged at the outset that given the chaotic nature at the scene, they were unable to determine how the events unfolded,” the statement read. “We reviewed the evidence that was presented to us in consultation with the detectives, and they agreed we were unable to approve charges based on the evidence presented.”

In response, Lightfoot says the Chicago Police superintendent and chief of detectives disagree with Foxx’s decision to drop all charges.

This is the second time in two weeks that Foxx’s office has dropped charges based on a “mutual combat” claim. Last week a 17-year old avoided murder charges in the stabbing death of 18-year old Manuel Porties, Jr. in the Chicago suburb of Schaumberg when Foxx’s office told Porties’ family that they weren’t going to prosecute the case because the teens were also engaged in “mutual combat.”

If Kim Foxx has decided she no longer wants to prosecute gang violence because both sides know what they’re getting into, I’d suggest she work with Cook County to put a formal policy in place. Since mutual combat is going to be a thing in Chicago, can’t we at least take it off the streets? How about turning Soldier Field into a gladiatorial arena on Friday and Saturday nights? Better yet, use Guaranteed Rate Field. The Chicago White Sox won’t be needing it until spring once baseball’s regular season wraps up, so it could host nightly gang fights for all those ready and willing to participate.

I know, I know. That’s a crazy idea. But is it any less bonkers than refusing to charge individuals who drove up to a house and started shooting at the people inside?