Litigating her first trial as Cook County State's Attorney, Anita Alvarez on Tuesday said alleged gunman Shawn Gaston celebrated with friends after shooting and killing Officer Alejandro "Alex" Valadez.
"This guy went to 62nd and Paulina and started to party because that's what you do after you shoot," she told the jurors as testimony began in connection with the June 1, 2009 shooting in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood.
Valadez and his partner, Tom Vargas, were responding to a call of shots fired at West 60th Street and South Hermitage Avenue that night when Valadez was struck by bullets in his thigh and behind his left ear.
"I could feel rounds over the top of my head as I was trying to pull my weapon. I illuminated my flashlight and I saw blood on the ground and immediately I knew he was dead. His eyes were open, but he never responded. He was looking around," Vargas testified.
Gaston and another man, Kevin Walker, were arrested within days of Valadez's slaying. A third man, Christopher Harris, was arrested several weeks later. All three admitted to police their roles in the crime, officials said.
A day after Valadez was shot, Det. Tom Byrne said the trio had been shot at by a rival gang, the Gangster Disciples and "decided that they wanted to go and get their guns and come back and retaliate against anyone that's standing on the block."
The men were in a blue 2007 Pontiac G6 when they fired upon Valadez and Vargas, police said, adding that three guns were recovered inside the trunk of that car, including what is believed to be the murder weapon.
But defense attorneys on Tuesday argued that Gaston couldn't have been the gunman. For one, said attorney John Carroll, Gaston's DNA isn't on any of the weapons recovered.
Secondly, he said, Valadez was shot in the left. Gaston, in the vehicle, would have been on the officer's right.
"I don't care who's in the mystery car. Nobody in that car could have inflicted the wound from sitting in a car like that," said defense attorney John Carroll.
As Tuesday's testimony drew to a close, attorneys began to speak a bit about ballistics and the possibility of three different types of guns being used.
Testimony is scheduled to continue through the end of the week. Harris and Walker still await trial.
|Alejandro "Alex" Valadez joined the Chicago Police Department in December 2005. He had earned a Department Commendation and 22 Honorable Mentions during his three-year career, police said.|