The very-public battle between Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx continued on Tuesday, with the two leaders criticizing one another after five suspects in a fatal Friday shootout were released without charges.
Lightfoot, along with five Chicago aldermen, criticized Foxx’s office in a letter Monday, voicing disagreement with the decision not to file charges in the case.
According to police, members of a gang faction began to shoot into a residence in an effort to lure out or injure members of a rival gang. Uniformed officers in a marked police vehicle “witnessed much of the activity,” according to authorities, and it is believed the incident was largely captured on body-worn cameras.
One person was killed and two others were hurt in the shootout, according to Chicago police.
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Foxx’s office determined that “evidence was insufficient to meet our burden of proof to approve felony charges,” and the suspects were released without charges.
That decision was greeted with criticism from the mayor.
“They shoot up a residence in broad daylight, and there’s no consequences,” she said. “We have to understand how it’s possible, when this kind of shootout is captured on film, that there are no charges of any person.”
Lightfoot says she will ask the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago to look into the possibility of filing federal charges in the case.
In a press conference Tuesday, Foxx responded forcefully.
“Our job is not only an arrest but also to get a conviction,” she said. “Discussing the facts of this case in the press without the benefit of all of the evidence does nothing but disservice.”
Foxx says that as a former prosecutor, Lightfoot should be more sensitive to the demands of the office, and that she was disappointed with the mayor’s remarks.
“I was quite honestly mortified by what happened yesterday, particularly because the mayor, as a former prosecutor, knows that what she did yesterday was inappropriate,” Foxx said.
Foxx also pushed back against criticism from Chicago police officials, saying that of the more than 13,000 shootings that have occurred in the city since she took office in 2016, only around 2,000 have resulted in an arrest.
The tension between the officials, as well as with the Chicago Police Department and Supt. David Brown, has caused some concern among legal observers in Chicago, including Dick Devine, the former State’s Attorney who served in that capacity for 12 years.
“They seem to be negotiating like two foreign countries planning a summit,” he said. “The CPD and State’s Attorney and leadership should be meeting on a regular basis.”
As gun crime continues to escalate in Chicago, Rev. Michael Pfleger, a well-known anti-violence advocate, says that the finger-pointing and the war of words are distracting from the city’s mission to cut back on shootings.
“While the blame game is going on, nothing is changing the violence in the streets. People are still being shot and killed,” he said.
Foxx seems ready to take Devine’s advice, saying she intends to seek a meeting with Lightfoot, Brown and other police officials in coming weeks.
Devine says that kind of collaboration is critical when facing the issues that the city of Chicago is dealing with.
“It’s so important to have that relationship with different elements of the criminal justice systems, so that you can look at issues and talk them out face-to-face, and not talk through media and reacting to what an opinion poll might say,” he said. “These are extremely serious problems.”