Chicago's mayor and a top prosecutor are at each other's throats over a decision by the state's attorney general office not to press charges in a deadly caught-on-camera shootout between suspects on the city's West Side.
With Chicago police saying they've got video evidence and a slew of witnesses to violence that killed one gunman and wounded several other people Friday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot ripped into Cook County State's Attorney General Kim Foxx for a quick decision to not file any charges, WGN reported.
"Having been a prosecutor myself, having been briefed and looked at the evidence myself, I see ground for charges," Lightfoot said at a city council budget hearing Monday, WGN reported.
"We have videotape. We have officers on the scene observing it. At a bare minimum, the individuals who initiated the firefight must be prosecuted," Lightfoot said.
Police pursued charges but the state's attorney's office declined based on "mutual combat," WGN reported.
"We've gotta be able to explain to people on that block and across the city why it is when you have this kind of evidence, a videotape showing exactly what happened, why charges weren't brought," Lightfoot said, the news outlet reported.
"If they don't 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 and we cannot let that happen," she added.
But Foxx's office fired back with their own statement — suggesting Lightfoot was blowing up the matter for publicity.
"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," the statement argued, WGN reported.
"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 [Chicago Police Department]. 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. 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.
"However, as always, as additional evidence is gathered we stand ready to bring charges when appropriate," the statement said.
"Additionally, the facts the mayor presented today simply are not in line with what was presented to us by CPD, and not born out by the evidence we received. The staggering violence that is devastating our communities is horrific, however, we must still adhere to both our ethical and legal standards in evaluating charges. As a former prosecutor, she knows that."
During an unrelated news conference Monday, Lightfoot said she and a group of West Side aldermen sent a letter to Foxx imploring her to reconsider filing charges in the case, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
"If the bad guys that are out there that are picking up guns and shooting without any regard for the sanctity of life, do not believe that there's accountability for them, the brazenness will not end. It will escalate, it will continue and our communities will not be safe," she said.
"It's complicated, for sure. But we really urge the state's attorney herself to get personally involved, look at the evidence, and I believe that there are charges that can be brought at a minimum against the individuals who initiated the gunfire.
"We can't live in a world where there is no accountability," the mayor said.
Foxx, meanwhile, defended her decision by telling the Sun Times, "I don't play politics."
"We do prosecutions. And it's why we do our best to not engage in public conversations about cases because we recognize that as tragic and horrific as these incidents are, that if we want to see criminal justice and accountability, we do that in the courtroom," she told the news outlet.
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