CHICAGO (CBS) – A war of words between Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx and Mayor Lori Lightfoot escalated on Tuesday, a day after the mayor called for prosecution in a shooting in the neighborhood of North Austin, claiming that there is video evidence and officers who witnessed the crime.
However, Foxx reiterated on Tuesday that there was not yet sufficient evidence to press charges in the case, and said senior Chicago Police Department officials agreed with his assessment of the case. , saying it was “inappropriate” for Lightfoot to discuss the facts of the case in public while it is still under investigation.
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“I was very honestly mortified by what happened yesterday, especially because the mayor, as a former prosecutor, knows what she did yesterday was inappropriate,” Foxx said.
The dispute stems from a shooting last week in the North Austin neighborhood that left one dead and two others injured. The shooting was observed by Chicago police officers and caught on surveillance video, but no charges have been filed in the case.
“I just want you to know that this concerns me deeply,” Lightfoot said on Monday.
In a letter, Lightfoot and five aldermen urged Foxx to reconsider his decision.
“After considering this; obtained a thorough understanding of the detectives who were conducting the investigation, it is really difficult to understand this decision. It’s complicated for sure. But we really urge the state prosecutor herself to get personally involved, to look at the evidence and either that there may be charges that can be laid at a minimum against the people who started the shots ” , said Mayor Lightfoot. “We cannot live in a world where there is no accountability – where there is no accountability, that is, individuals who wreak havoc, who shoot indiscriminately or shoot. a target but with no regard for the sanctity of life, the health and well-being of others. – if they don’t feel like the criminal justice system is going to hold them accountable, we are going to see a level of brazen that will plunge this city into chaos. And we can’t let that happen. We simply cannot let this happen.
The mayor said there was video evidence and pointed out that uniformed police officers witnessed the shooting. She reiterated that she believed at a minimum those who initiated the shooting should be prosecuted, but said those in the house who fired extensively should also be assessed for prosecution.
However, Foxx argued that Lightfoot’s statements about the evidence in the case “just weren’t true” and said that as a former federal prosecutor, the mayor should know better than to adjudicate the case. in the media.
“I find myself here today having to respond to an account which was given by the mayor yesterday concerning a matter which is still under investigation,” she said. “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 the evidence does a disservice to the communities that have been affected by this violence.
Foxx also said she was disappointed that Lightfoot did not contact her directly with her concerns about the case before criticizing her in public.
“She didn’t pick up the phone and brought these concerns to me to get a full account of what happened in this matter,” Foxx said.
She said the shooting was still under investigation and her office was ready to lay charges if and when there was enough evidence to make an arrest.
“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that the necessary work is done, so that we can lay charges and ultimately secure a conviction for those who engage in the violence that we have seen in this city. “she said. noted.
Foxx also suggested that Lightfoot’s statements on Monday’s case could jeopardize a potential prosecution in the future, if there is any evidence to support charges down the line.
“I want to end the media trials. Ultimately, statements made yesterday that were not factually correct, if this case were to be indicted, could pose potential problems. Nobody wants that, not for a political coup, not for a press coup, ”she said. “There is a shootout in Austin. Our main concern should be to prosecute these people, not a headline distracting from the fact that we didn’t have full plans in mind. “
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Chicago Police said around 10:30 a.m. Friday, tactical officers from the 25th District (Grand Central) responded to a call from a man with a gun near Potomac and Mason avenues. When they arrived at the scene, they saw four people exit two cars in front of a house in the 1200 block of North Mason Avenue and start shooting at the house.
People inside the house fired back, shooting at one of the attackers, as other attackers fled the scene in both vehicles.
The assailant who was shot was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Two injured people inside the house also went to the hospital, but their conditions were not available.
One of the vehicles that fled the scene was later found set on fire near Lockwood and Chicago avenues. The second vehicle that fled the scene crashed in Oak Park near Austin Boulevard and Harrison Street. Oak Park Police said the driver fled after the crash but was arrested in the 700 block of Lyman Avenue, with the help of Chicago Police and a canine unit.
Police said two more people were taken into custody by Zone Five detectives before they were eventually all released.
Foxx said that just because there may be video evidence in a specific case doesn’t mean there is sufficient evidence to charge someone.
“We can’t just try out cases on videos. We need witnesses to come forward, ”Foxx said. “In order for us to lay charges in a case, it’s not just that we saw a video of something that happened. We need to be able to say that the person we arrested and charged is the same person who committed the act.
She said this means prosecutors need a witness who can attest that the person arrested and charged is the same person seen committing a crime on video.
Foxx also noted that Chicago Police Detective Chief Brendan Deenihan twice admitted Monday that police agreed there was not enough prosecution in the case, even for simple offenses. related to firearms.
In a police budget hearing on Monday, Deenihan told aldermen that video evidence does not make it clear who was shooting the guns during the shooting, and those in custody are not cooperating with detectives, so the police cannot determine who was shooting, much less who started it.
“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to build the strongest case possible, not just for arrest, but for conviction, to hold those who cause damage to account,” Foxx said. .
Foxx said that despite the gun violence crisis in Chicago, prosecutors “can’t cut corners” to lay charges in a specific case. She also noted that Cook County was the source of the country’s most wrongful convictions for an “anything goes” approach to criminal cases in the 1980s and 1990s.
“We can’t play games. We have to act like the professionals that we are, and that means that as prosecutors we do not engage in the facts and evidence of the case in the media. And we would expect our partners, especially those who have served as prosecutors, to recognize this, and more importantly, by taking this path, will speak the truth, ”she said.
Foxx also raised concerns about cases coming from Zone Five detectives and said his office had had conversations with the superintendent. David Brown on this.
She said she would like to have a meeting with detectives from Lightfoot, Brown and Area Five “so that we can have a common understanding that is not filtered by the press or leaked to discuss the concerns that have been raised about one. a number of cases that went out of zone five.
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The mayor is expected to respond to Foxx’s comments at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.