Attorney Says He Can't Adequately Defend Accused Cop Killer - NBC Chicago

Attorney Says He Can't Adequately Defend Accused Cop Killer

Prosecution doesn't need to share their evidence in case surrounding death of Officer Thor Soderberg, judge rules



    (Published Wednesday, July 28, 2010)

    A public defender says he's at a disadvantage in his defense of an accused cop killer because the prosecution hasn't let him see any of their evidence.

    "I don't get to see any of that material, yet we have to give them material," said attorney Bill Wolf after a court hearing on Wednesday.  "It is utter hypocrisy.  It is completely unfair."

    Wolf is assigned to the case of Bryant Brewer, who was charged with one count of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and one count of armed robbery in connection with the shooting death of Chicago Police Officer Thor Soderberg earlier this month.

    A violence court judge on Wednesday denied a motion that would have forced the States Attorneys office to turn over materials including police reports, witness statements and any physical evidence recovered at the scene. At the same time, he ordered Brewer to give hair and DNA samples to the prosecution.

    Prosecutors say Brewer wrestled a gun away from Soderberg on July 7 and shot him at least three times outside a police facility near 61st and Racine.

    Police say Brewer also used Soderberg's gun to shoot at a man sitting across the street and later stealing his tool bag.  That man was not injured.

    Brewer, who has 22 prior arrests, was taken into custody after an exchange of gunfire with other police officers. According to family members, the 24-year-old South-side man has a history of mental illness.

    "It is something I am forced, based on what I'm hearing in the media, as far as mental health issues of Mr. Brewer, I am going to investigate it.  Any defense lawyer would," said Wolf.

    Investigators say Brewer has admitted to shooting the fallen officer, but Wolf said he hasn't yet seen that statement.

    "From my perspective, on high-profile homicide cases, I have often seen them come to court and say the discovery rules apply to us and yet they will not turn anything over themselves," he said.

    While Brewer was attending his preliminary hearing at 26th and California, Thor Soderberg’s family watched as the Chicago City Council honored the fallen officer. A 19-paragraph resolution was passed recognizing Soderberg’s commitment to his community and its residents.

    Mayor Richard M. Daley told Soderberg’s wife that he will be remembered for the best of what he did.

    "It’s up to us as a society to tell our children and grandchildren, and not just to the police department, of men and women like Thor Soderberg, who gave his ultimate sacrifice for us in serving and protecting the people of the city of Chicago," he said.

    For now, Brewer is being held without bond.  If convicted, he could face the death penalty.