Slain Cop's Parents Settle Lawsuit Against Mississippi Gun Dealer

Thomas Wortham IV, 30, was killed May 19, 2010, in front of his parents' South Side home as he tried to stop four men from stealing his motorcycle

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014  |  Updated 10:45 AM CDT
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Thomas Wortham Sr.: Cole Park is Safe

Ofc. Thomas Wortham

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Lawsuit Targets Gun Dealer In Cop's Murder

The parents of Chicago police officer Thomas Wortham are going after the man they say sold the murder weapon and the gun trafficker who brought it to Chicago. Christian Farr reports.

Thomas Wortham Sr.: Cole Park is Safe

Several dozen kids will camp out in Nat King Cole Park Friday night to honor a slain Chicago police officer who was on the park's advisory council and to reclaim their neighborhood as one that stands against crime and violence.
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The parents of a slain Chicago police officer and a Mississippi gun shop they sued for selling the gun used to kill their son to a straw buyer said Tuesday that they reached a settlement.

Carolyn and Thomas Wortham III and Ed's Pawn Shop & Salvage Yard in Byhalia, Miss., said in a joint statement that they resolved the dispute "to the satisfaction of all parties."

The pawn shop agreed to increased vigilance on gun sales.

"The agreed policies will include the video recording of all handgun sales; three year storage of the video recordings of all handgun sales; and immediate notification to the local and federal authorities of any multiple handgun purchases that occur within any thirty day period," the statement said.

Thomas Wortham IV, 30, was killed May 19, 2010, in front of his parents' South Side home as he tried to stop four men from stealing his motorcycle. He had recently completed his second tour of duty in Iraq.

"Our son survived the battlefields of Iraq, but could not survive the streets of his hometown, and nothing can undo that tragic fact," Carolyn Wortham said. "I know that Tommy would have wanted me to fight so that other families would be spared the tragedy ours has suffered."

Telephone calls to Ed's Pawn Shop & Salvage Yard for comment from owner Bruce Edward Archer weren't answered.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the Worthams by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Legal Action Project in federal court in Mississippi.

"It is far too easy for criminals and other dangerous people to obtain guns in America," said project director Jonathan Lowy. "To reduce the flow of guns to the criminal market, the gun industry needs to be a part of the solution, and stop being a large part of the problem."

The lawsuit alleged that Ed's Pawn Shop & Salvage Yard "knew or should have known at the time of the sale that the sale of the handgun to Michael Elliott, a straw purchaser, was illegal, as Elliott was conspiring with a gun trafficker."

It said that even though Elliott could legally purchase weapons, the fact that he was a first-time buyer who paid $1,500 in cash for three weapons should have raised suspicions.

Prosecutors say the gun was used to kill Wortham IV during the confrontation with the four men, Brian Floyd, Marcus Floyd, Toyious Taylor, and Paris McGeein. Brian Floyd was also killed, and the other three are awaiting trial.

Elliott, of Mississippi, pleaded guilty to his role as a straw purchaser and was sentenced to six months in prison.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has cited statistics showing that the city leads the nation in the number of seized illegal weapons. He contends that they come from the suburbs and from other states through traffickers who sell them to gang members.

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