Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murdering Veteran Chicago Cop

Police said Brewer wrestled a gun away from the officer, an 11-year veteran of the force, and shot him in the head, back and face

A man convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of veteran Chicago Police Officer Thor Soderberg in 2010 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday.

Bryant Brewer was also sentenced to more than 100 years in prison for attempted first-degree murder and armed robbery of an alleged witness and for attempted first-degree murder of three other officers. He was convicted last month.

"This unprovoked assault of Officer Soderberg was particularly heinous and completely senseless," State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said. "It shows the extreme and unexpected dangers that our police officers can find themselves in at any moment. While today's sentence will not bring Officer Soderberg back to his wife and family, we are grateful that it will ensure that this defendant will never again roam the streets of Chicago searching for his next innocent victim." 

The testimony of forensic psychiatrist Mathew Markos was crucial to the prosecution's assertion that Brewer was not insane when he took Officer Soderberg's gun and used it to kill him on July 7, 2010.

Brewer, who was 24 years old at the time of the incident, was charged with shooting 43-year-old veteran officer at least three times — in the head, back and face — outside of a police station in the Englewood neighborhood.

"He has no remorse," Markos told the judge in court last month. "He would do it again. He is proud to be a cop killer."

Soderberg's widow wept openly during the proceedings and left the courtroom on at least two occasions. Police Supt. Garry McCarthy also appeared at the trial to lend support for Soderberg's family.

"Thor Soderberg was my husband, my best friend, my coach, my cheerleader, my counselor and my confidante," Soderberg's widow said Wednesday. "He was the core of my being. Thor somehow eased the pain in questions of life with just a grin. I had no idea it was possible to lose so much in a single lifetime, much less in a single moment. Widowhood is a journey and a struggle that I live every day." 

Brewer's attorneys contend that their client was insane at the time of the killing and that he had a history of mental illness, including a diagnosis of schizophrenia. According to Markos, however, Brewer's behavior was not consistent with schizophrenia, but rather with anti-social behavior.

Earlier in the trial, Brewer said, "I'm proud," when Cook County Assistant State's attorney Brian Sexton asked if he was "proud of being a cop-killer." Sexton then called Brewer "a police officer's worst nightmare."

Defense attorneys previously said Brewer was attacked by Soderberg, possibly for climbing a fence in a police parking lot. In their account of the incident, Soderberg pistol-whipped Brewer with his gun before Brewer grabbed it and shot him.

Brewer was also accused of firing shots at a man sitting across the street and stealing his tool bag after he shot Soderberg, according to Assistant State's Attorney John Dillon. The incident led to a shootout with police, who shot Brewer in the chest.

After recovering in a hospital, Brewer was moved to a jail cell, where he awaited his trial.

In pre-trial hearings, an expert testified that Brewer had marijuana, PCP and opiates in his system at the time of the shooting.

Brewer, who had at least 22 previous arrests on his record, pleaded not guilty to 250 felony counts including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm, armed robbery and resisting and disarming an officer.

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