Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks to reporters during a news conference at Hope Manor II in Englewood on the South Side, Tuesday morning, Oct. 5, 2021. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
Lightfoot on Monday urged Foxx to reconsider charging suspects in the brazen gunfight last Friday in Austin, warning that a lack of consequences for criminals “will send this city into chaos.”
Facing heavy criticism after her office rejected charges against five suspects in a deadly shootout, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx on Tuesday slammed Mayor Lori Lightfoot for raising alarms about the case and allegedly getting certain facts wrong.
During a news conference in Englewood, Foxx said it was “inappropriate” and “wrong” for the former federal prosecutor to publicly discuss details of the gang-related gunfight Friday morning in Austin that left one shooter dead and two suspects wounded.
A day earlier, Lightfoot publicly urged Foxx to personally get involved in the case and to reconsider charging two suspects who allegedly helped instigate the shooting. She and a group of five West Side alderpersons also sent a letter to Foxx voicing their concerns and making a similar request.
People sit on the street near the 1200 block of North Mason Avenue in the Austin neighborhood, where a person was fatally shot and two were injured, Friday morning, Oct. 1, 2021.
Foxx, however, claimed to reporters Tuesday that some of the statements Lightfoot made about the evidence in the case “simply weren’t true.”
“I was quite honestly mortified by what happened yesterday,” Foxx said, “particularly because the mayor as a former prosecutor knows that what she did yesterday was inappropriate.”
Though Foxx wouldn’t say what she believes Lightfoot got wrong, she noted that Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan conceded Monday that the evidence was insufficient to bring the charges of first-degree murder and aggravated battery against all five members of two warring factions of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang.
During a budget hearing, Deenihan acknowledged that police video footage doesn’t clearly show some of the shooters, and that none of those arrested were wiling to cooperate with investigators. But Deenihan also said he thought prosecutors could pursue lesser charges against at least some of the suspects.
Foxx said cops haven’t sought any other charges, adding that prosecutors will assess any new evidence brought to them and consider charges again.
Lightfoot and the alderpersons insisted in the letter that Deenihan and Supt. David Brown didn’t agree with the state’s attorney’s office’s decision to reject the charges, despite Foxx claiming that detectives backed the move.
Spokespeople for Lightfoot and the police department didn’t immediately respond to questions about Foxx’s comments.
Foxx also publicly requested to meet with Lightfoot, Brown and Area 5 leaders to address her concerns about certain recent investigations and officials allegedly leaking information to the media. Area 5 detectives had already been at odds with the state’s attorney’s office over other high-profile cases prosecutors refused to take up, including the fatal shootings of National Guard member Chrys Carjaval in July and 7-year-old Serenity Broughton in August.
While the county’s top prosecutor vowed to continue working with police on the case, she said it wasn’t part of her job to “try cases in the media, nor to play politics on the deaths of children and veterans and people in our community.”
“We would expect that our partners, especially those who served as prosecutors, would recognize that,” said Foxx, taking a not-so-veiled shot at Lightfoot. “And more importantly, if engaging in that, [they] would tell the truth. Tell the truth.”
The rebuke came after Lightfoot warned Monday that a lack of consequences for criminals sends a dangerous message amid the current surge in violence.
“If they do not feel like the criminal justice system is going to hold them accountable, we’re going to see a level of brazenness that will send this city into chaos,” Lightfoot said of those stoking the violence. “And we cannot let that happen.”
But Foxx on Tuesday apparently sought to deflect some of the blame back onto the police department. Of the 13,374 citywide shootings that have occurred since she took office in 2016, Foxx told reporters, just 2,447 have resulted in an arrest.
“This isn’t me pointing fingers. … This isn’t me playing the victim,” she said. “This is us in the state’s attorney’s office wanting to work with our law enforcement partners because when we know we have that many unsolved shooting there is a sense that people can get away with murder with impunity, and that makes our communities less safe.”
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks to reporters during a news conference at Hope Manor II in Englewood on the South Side, Tuesday morning, Oct. 5, 2021.
The political football was eventually kicked to Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday, when he was asked about the shootout and what the state can do to address violent crime in Chicago. He noted that Illinois is “nearly at a state of emergency in our need to address crime,” saying he’s provided Illinois State Police resources and National Guard members when officials in Chicago have requested them.
“When we don’t hear of the need from the city, even though we are offering it, then we don’t provide,” he said. “You can’t just march people in without coordinating with the Chicago Police Department. I am regularly in contact with state’s attorneys across the state, particularly the one in Cook County and with our leaders of our court system.
“And so I want to make sure that we are coordinating all the resources necessary to bring down crime in the city of Chicago.”
Contributing: Cheyanne Daniels