A cab driver’s quick thinking helped police catch the man accused of shooting and killing a beloved Chicago police commander at the city's highly-traffic Thompson Center this week, police said Wednesday.
The taxi driver was driving southbound on Clark when he saw Cmdr. Paul Bauer chasing down the suspected gunman Shomari Legghette.
“He sees what’s going on and he actually pulled over,” said Detective Commander Brendan Deenihan.
The driver’s cab was recording footage and audio of the incident at the time.
“This same taxi cab driver, he takes even more action,” Deenihan said. “He gets out of his taxi cab cause he knows something’s going on and he uses his personal cell phone and he captures more video of the incident.”
The footage included audio of gunshots from a nearby stairwell, video of an officer recovering a gun from Legghette, a repeat felon, and images of him wearing body armor.
“This taxi cab driver deserves a lot of credit for pulling over and for helping us in our investigation,” Deenihan said.
Legghette, 44, was charged with murder, armed violence, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and drug possession in the shooting death of Cmdr. Paul Bauer in a stairwell at the Thompson Center, officials announced Wednesday. On Thursday, he was ordered held without bond.
Bauer, 53, was assisting a tactical team in "apprehending a suspicious person" at the building, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted Tuesday.
The Cook County Medical Examiner's office said Wednesday Bauer died from multiple gunshot wounds. His death was ruled a homicide.
Legghette has previously been charged with possession of a controlled substance, armed robbery and possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number as far back as 1996, court records obtained by NBC 5 Investigates show. He was also charged in 2007 with unlawful use of body armor, unlawful use of a weapon and drug possession, police said.
At a press conference Wednesday, Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson told reporters Legghette "executed" Bauer.
“The city lost a piece of itself and a family lost a loving father and husband,” he said. Bauer's wife and daughter paid "the ultimate debt," Johnson added.
"Some people don't deserve to walk the streets of Chicago," Johnson said.
Deenihan, an ash cross smudged across his forehead, said officers observed Legghette on Lower Wacker Drive Tuesday acting suspiciously in an area known for narcotics activity. An officer approached Legghette to conduct a field interview but he took off running toward the Thompson Center and City Hall, Deenihan said.
The officer who attempted to stop Legghette was yelling "I just want to talk to you," according to Deenihan. The officer also warned over the radio after giving Legghette's description that "nobody get hurt" over an attempted field interview.
Bauer overheard the call on his radio while in the area for a training seminar and was having lunch nearby, police said. He was in full uniform and wearing a winter coat.
Deenihan said police recovered video of Bauer chasing Legghette into a stairwell at Thompson Center. Legghette can be seen “pulling” on Bauer before they fall down the stairs together. Police say Legghette shot Bauer during the struggle multiple times.
Video also shows people fleeing before cops responded to the scene with guns drawn, according to Deenihan. The responding officers called for Legghette to come out of stairwell. He did and invoked his right to remain silent, according to police.
Police said Bauer did not appear to have drawn his weapon and no officers fired shots. Legghette fired his gun seven times and had crack, heroin and cash on him, police said.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said her department worked with police detectives through the night and approved charges against Legghette Wednesday.
“There is no more serious offense than the killing of a police officer in the line of duty,” Foxx said.