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Saturday, July 24, 2010

CHICAGO GUN VIOLENCE


BY MARK J. KONKOL AND FRANK MAIN Staff Reporters
SUNTIMES


This is the story of why they won’t stop shooting in Chicago.
It’s told by the wounded, the accused and the officers who were on the street during a weekend in April 2008 when 40 people were shot, seven fatally.
Two years later, the grim reality is this: Nearly all of the shooters from that weekend have escaped charges.
“You don’t go to jail for shooting people,” says Dontae Gamble, who took six bullets that weekend, only to see his alleged shooter walk free.
“That’s why m------------- think they can get back on the streets and kill again. You feel me?”
So far, not one accused shooter has been convicted of pulling the trigger during those deadly 59 hours from April 18-20 of that year, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found.
Only one suspected triggerman — a convicted armed robber caught with the AK-47 he allegedly used to blow away his boss — is in jail awaiting trial.
Three other victims said they know who shot them but refused to testify. And after Gamble took the witness stand against the guy who he says shot him, a judge ruled Gamble wasn’t credible because of his criminal record and found the suspect not guilty.
Six murders from that 2008 weekend remain unsolved. And time’s running out to catch the bad guys who shot 29 other people that weekend because there’s a three-year statute of limitations on aggravated batteries with firearms.
Odds are, most of those cases will remain unsolved. The Chicago Police Department’s batting average for catching shooters has fallen to an alarmingly low level.
Detectives cleared 18 percent of the 1,812 non-fatal shootings last year. They were slightly better in catching killers — 30 percent of murders were cleared in 2009.
But here’s the catch: When police “clear” a case, that doesn’t always mean a suspect got convicted — or even charged.
Sometimes police seek charges against a suspect, but the state’s attorney won’t prosecute without more evidence. Other times, the shooter is dead, or the victim refuses to testify after identifying the shooter. Cops call those “exceptional” clearances.
Police don’t include the number of exceptional clearances in their annual report to the FBI. The Sun-Times obtained the data through the Freedom of Information Act.
Even though detectives cleared 18 percent of non-fatal shootings last year, almost half of those were cleared exceptionally, the records show. That means more than 90 percent of those gunmen weren’t charged.
And that has a real impact on street violence.
“The certainty of punishment is very, very low in Chicago, and that’s going to embolden people,” said defense attorney Thomas Needham, who was a top legal adviser to former police Supt. Terry Hillard. “It’s going to lead to less fear by the people who are going to consider shooting. That’s very alarming.”
Jose Bravo, Willie Brown and Dontae Gamble — all men who survived bullets during this one violent weekend in Chicago — are faces of a real problem.
When victims won’t cooperate or have shaky credibility on the witness stand, the overwhelming odds are the people who shot them won’t go to prison.

It's outrageous that our legal system cannot lock up these vermin who are terrorizing our city. Every time an officer or citizen is killed we read about how often the offender was arrested for gun crimes and other despicable acts. When are we going to hold the people who run this city accountable? The politicians and reverends get in front of the camera and talk about gun laws and saving the children. Then they pass laws that allow judges to set these animals free and help hide the same cowards who are doing the shooting. You can't have it both ways. If you want safe neighborhoods you have to elect tough leaders who are willing to put the murderers in jail and you have to turn in the people in your neighborhoods who are committing the crimes. Once the people see that the gang bangers and hoodlums are going away for long sentences, they will be more willing to come forward and testify. It starts at the top. We need tough new leaders in Chicago.




1 comment:

  1. Time to take our States Attorney, Anita Alvarez, to task for her shameful record of prosecutions in Cook County.

    She prefers to only go after the slam dunk winners to make her record shine, and leave the thousands of questionable cases in the toilet, so these animals go free to do it again and again!

    She MUST be Voted out of Office!

    ReplyDelete

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