Five men linked by police to a deadly gang shootout in Austin last week were released from custody after prosecutors declined to charge each of them with a pair of felonies, including first-degree murder.
The mid-morning gunfight, which left one shooter dead and two of the suspects wounded, stemmed from an internal dispute between two gang factions, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
Police sought to charge all five suspects with murder and aggravated battery. By Sunday morning, a Chicago police spokeswoman acknowledged the suspects had “been released without charges.”
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office explained that prosecutors had “determined that the evidence was insufficient to meet our burden of proof to approve felony charges,” a state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman said, adding that police officials agreed with the decision.
But a police report framed the state’s attorney’s office’s decision to decline charges in a different light: “Mutual combatants was cited as the reason for the rejection.” Mutual combat is a legal term used to define a fight or struggle that two parties willingly engage in.
Last week, Cook County prosecutors came under fire after making a similar argument after a teenager was stabbed to death during a fight in suburban Schaumburg. The family of the victim, 18-year-old Manuel Porties Jr., later told WGN that prosecutors specifically said they weren’t charging the 17-year-old suspect with murder because the fatal fight amounted to mutual combat.