Alleged Cop Killer Has 22 Prior Arrests

Bryant Brewer shot, wounded his brother four years ago, police say

By Anthony Ponce and BJ Lutz
|  Friday, Jul 9, 2010  |  Updated 8:09 PM CDT
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Chicago Police

Bryant Brewer, 24, of 5800 Block of South Wolcott, faces one count of first degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and one count of armed robbery, according to police.

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Though just 24 years old, the man accused of shooting and killing a Chicago police officer earlier this week has already been arrested 22 times, including one arrest for shooting and wounding his own brother.

As charges were announced Friday, police Supt. Jody Weis called Bryant Brewer a vicious criminal and said he's looking to speak with those in the judicial system to determine why Brewer was out on the streets.

"This savage act defies all human value.  It should never have happened," he said.  "I simply cannot understand how a person can have such a total disregard of life."

Brewer, of the 5800 block of South Wolcott, has been charged with one count of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and one count of armed robbery.  Police say Brewer wrestled a gun away from officer Thor Soderberg and shot him at least three times -- in the head, back and face -- outside a police station near 61st and Racine on Wednesday afternoon.  Soderberg died in the parking lot. 

Using Soderberg’s weapon, Brewer is also accused of firing shots at a man sitting across the street -- a contractor by the name of Richard Mints -- and stealing his tool bag, said Assistant State’s Attorney John Dillon.

Responding officers exchanged gunfire with Brewer, wounding him. 

Officers said Brewer made "an admission" from his hospital bed, though his injuries prevented him from attending his bond hearing, where a judge ordered him held without bail.

"One comfort we can all share is that this miscreant is off the streets, never again being able to prey on an innocent victim," Weis said. 

Brewer was arrested four years ago, accused of shooting his brother on Independence Day.  Police said he made a confession at that time, but the aggravated battery case was later dismissed.  Family members said Brewer has a history of mental illness, a fact that Weis could not confirm.

The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation on Friday gave a $50,000 check to Soderberg's widow, as officers continued to mourn the loss of the 11-year-veteran.

Religious and community leaders, as well as the sister of Thomas Wortham IV, a police officer who was killed in May during an attempted robbery, gathered in solidarity outside the old police station at 61st and Racine.

"My family is so sick that we're here again, that we're seeing the same news reports of another man, and I just hope that we all get it now," said Sandra Wortham.

Soderberg is being hailed an exemplary officer with a true understanding of duty and service. 

"Thor is a different individual. Thor is the most genuine individual you would ever meet. He showed me how I should live in my life," Officer Walter Metcalf said Thursday during a tribute at the Chicago Police Academy building.

If convicted, Brewer could face the death penalty. 

Funeral arrangements for Soderberg have not been arranged.

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