A woke war of words has erupted between Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city's top prosecutor Kim Foxx, after the mayor criticized Foxx for not charging the assailants in a deadly shootout last week.

On Monday, Lightfoot publicly called for charges to be brought against the assailants who opened fire at a house in the North Austin neighborhood of the city Friday morning, killing one and injuring two. 

She said there is enough video evidence and officers who witnessed the crime to bring charges against those involved - after Foxx said she could not approve because there is not yet enough sufficient evidence to file charges.

In response, Foxx, the State Attorney for Cook County, Illinois, said it was 'inappropriate' for the mayor to discuss the facts of the case in public while it remains under investigation.

'I was quite honestly mortified by what happened yesterday, particularly by the mayor,' she told CBS 2, noting that as a former prosecutor, the mayor should know 'that what she did yesterday was inappropriate.'

Lightfoot - herself a former prosecutor in the area - tossed the brickbat at her fellow Democrat amid an ongoing crime spike in the city.

That has seen her U-turn from wanting to defund the police, to announcing plans to refund the city's beleaguered police department. 

Cook County District Attorney Kim Foxx announced on Monday her office was not bringing charges against the assailants in a shootout
The decision was heavily criticized by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

A war of words has erupted between Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and District Attorney Kim Foxx, after the mayor criticized Foxx for not charging the assailants in a shootout last week

The argument stems from a shootout in the North Austin neighborhood that left one person dead and two others injured.

According to Chicago police, tactical officers responded to a call of a man with a gun near Potomac and Mason Avenues at 10.30am on Friday, and saw four people get out of two cars in front of  a home and start shooting.

People inside the home returned fire, shooting one of the attackers, as the other assailants fled the scene in the two cars.

One of the vehicles was later found burned out, and the second vehicle crashed as the driver tried to flee the scene. He took off after the crash, Oak Park police said, but was caught later and arrested. 

Meanwhile, the assailant who was shot was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, and two others who were inside the home at the time of the shooting were also brought to the hospital - though their conditions are unknown.

The dead man's name has not been named.  

The entire incident was caught on surveillance footage and was witnessed by the officers who arrived on the scene, Lightfoot said.

'I just want you to know that this is of deep concern to me,' she said on Monday, writing a letter with five aldermen urging Foxx to reconsider her decision to not bring charges against the assailants, who were all released from custody.

'Having looked at this; gotten a deeper understanding from the detectives that were doing the investigation; it's really hard to understand that decision,' the letter read.

'It's complicated, for sure. But we really urge the State Attorney herself to get personally involved, look at the evidence' and bring charges 'at a minimum against the individuals who initiated the gunfire.

'We can't live in a world where there's no accountability,' the mayor continued, 'meaning individuals who wreak havoc, who fire indiscriminately, or fire at a target but without any regard to life and the health and wellbeing of others.

'If they do not feel like the criminal justice system is going to hold them accountable, we're going to see a level of brazenness that will send this city into chaos,' she warned. 'And we cannot let that happen. We simply cannot let that happen.'

But the next day, Foxx said Lightfoot's statements about the evidence available 'simply weren't true,' and said that as a former prosecutor herself, she should know better than to try the case in the media. 

'I find myself here today having to respond to a narrative that was given by the mayor yesterday regarding a case that is still under investigation,' she said on Tuesday.

'It was inappropriate. It was wrong. As a prosecutor who understands the oath, and as a former prosecutor, discussing the facts of this case in the press without the benefit of all of the evidence does a disservice to the communities who have been impacted by this violence.'

She suggested Lightfoot's comments about the case could compromise any potential prosecution in the future, noting: 'I want to end trying cases in the media.

'At the end of the day, the statements that were made yesterday that were not factually accurate, should this case be ready for charging, may pose potential issues,' she said. 'Nobody wants that, not for a political stunt, not for a press hit.

'Our number one concern should be about getting those people prosecuted, not a headline diverting attention away from the fact that we have not had comprehensive plans in mind.'

Foxx also said she was disappointed Lightfoot did not reach out to her directly about her concerns. 'She didn't pick up the phone and raise those concerns with me to get a full accounting of what happened in this case.'

If she had, Foxx said, she would know that the shootout remains under investigation and her office is prepared to bring charges if and when there is sufficient evidence to make an arrest.  

'We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to ensure that the necessary work is done so that we may bring charges, and ultimately secure a conviction for those who engage in the violence that we've seen across this city.'

She noted, however, that just because there might be video evidence in  a specific case does not mean there is sufficient evidence to charge someone.

'We can't try cases on videos. We need witnesses to come forward,' Foxx told CBS 2.

'In order for us to bring charges in a case, it's not simply what we saw a video of something happen. We need to be able to say that the person who we arrested and charged is the same person who engaged in the act.'

She noted that Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan twice on Monday acknowledged that there was not enough evidence in the case to bring charges - not even for simple firearms offenses.

He said at a police budget hearing on Monday that the video the mayor referenced does not clearly show who was firing the weapons.  

And, Foxx said, the county has been the source of the most wrongful convictions in the country because of an 'anything goes' approach to criminal cases in the 1980s and 1990s, a trend she sought to end.

'We cannot play games,' Foxx argued. 'We must operate as the professionals that we are, and that means as prosecutors, we don't engage on the facts and the evidence in the media.

'And we would expect our partners, especially those who served as prosecutors, would recognize that, and more importantly in engaging in, that will tell the truth.'

Foxx concluded by saying when would like to have a meeting with Lightfoot and local police officials 'so that we can have a common understanding that is not filtered through press or leaks, to discuss the concerns that have been raised out of a number of cases.'

The mayor later questioned whether there was actually a lack of clarity in the video, asking: 'If this happened in Beverly or Mt. Greenwood, would there really be no clarity.'

The two areas are predominantly white, whereas North Austin is predominantly black.

Foxx was elected to office in 2016, vowing to reform the criminal justice system and reduce the population of the Cook County Jail - which disproportionately holds low income people of color.

During her time in office, a study by the Chicago Tribune found, she had dropped felony cases involving charges of murder and other serious offenses at a higher rate than her predecessor.

In her first three years in office, the Tribune found, the DA's office dropped all charges against nearly 30 percent of felony defendants, whereas in the last three years of Anita Alvarez's tenure, the rate was 19.4 percent. 

She dropped 8.1 percent of homicide cases, compared with 5.3 percent of cases dropped under Alvarez; as well as 9.5 percent of felony sex crimes, while the rate was 6.5 percent for Alvarez.

In total, the Tribune reports, a total of 25,183 people had their felony cases dismissed under Foxx through November 2019, up from 18,694 for a similar period under Alvarez.

One of the most well-known cases Foxx's office decided not to prosecute was the case against former Empire star Jussie Smollett, who had been accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack against himself in downtown Chicago.

Prosecutors in 2019 moved to dismiss all 16 felony counts against Smollett under Foxx's leadership, but in February, a grand jury indicted him on new charges - making allegations nearly identical to those that Foxx's office dropped.

In an interview with the Tribune, Foxx said she tried to create an office culture where assistant state attorneys can openly discuss dropping felony charges if a case has legal problems, pointing to the many wrongful convictions that have occurred over the years.

'Recognizing the history that we've had around wrongful convictions, recognizing our ethical obligations as prosecutors requires us to reinforce that people can, if they believe a case is flawed, bring it to our attention and we will dismiss it if it's appropriate,' she said.

Foxx is now up for re-election. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, meanwhile, has changed her tone about defunding the police in recent weeks over a crime spike and re-election fears.

In August, she unveiled her plans to ‘refund the police,' a U-turn from Lightfoot’s proposal last year which slashed $59million from the CPD budget, or 3.3percent, and 600 vacant positions from the department, amid Black Lives Matter protests throughout the summer of 2020.

She said at a news conference last month: ‘It’s my expectation that the police department budget will increase, no question. We have to.’

She added, ‘We have to make sure we are continuing to provide resources to recruit the next generation of police officers and make sure we’re doing that recruitment in a way that reflects diversity of the city.’ 

The announcement came in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Chicago Police Officer Ella French, 29, was killed during the shooting at a traffic stop in August.

It was the first fatal shooting of a Chicago officer in the line of duty since Lightfoot took office, and she became the first female officer fatally shot on the job there in 33 years.

Cops turned their back on Lightfoot after she went to the hospital to see the family of French's work partner, who was seriously injured. 

The mayor is said to have been badly-shaken by the snub.  

Two brothers were been charged over the shooting murder. 

Emonte Morgan, 21, was charged with first-degree murder of a peace officer, attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.

His brother, Eric Morgan, 22, was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, and obstruction of justice.

About two weeks after the tragedy, over Labor Day weekend, Chicago was swept by another wave of violent crime that saw a four year-old boy die after he was shot twice in the head through a window of his dad's home while he slept.

WLS-TV reports that at least 47 people were shot, two fatally, in 12-hour time span across the city as Labor Day weekend kicked off, with young Mychal Moultry Jr. among those victims.

Moultry Jr. was sleeping at his father's home on the 6500 block of South Ellis around 9pm on September 3 when he was struck twice in the head by gunfire that came through the window from outside the residence, according to NBC Chicago.

The youngster was taken in critical condition to Comer Children's Hospital, and was declared deceased two days later, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman told the news outlet. 

Elsewhere in the city, seven other children were among those injured in shootings over the holiday weekend, outraging residents citywide.

Among those seven children, two siblings, a 12-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl, were shot while attending a back-to-school picnic near an East Garfield Park gas station on Saturday, NBC Chicago reports.

Both teens were transported to Rush University Medical Center in stable condition, NBC Chicago reports.

Meanwhile, a 13-year-old boy was seriously injured after being shot in the basement of a South Chicago home just before 8pm on September 4, according to Chicago police.

The boy was struck in the head and was rushed to Comer Children's Hospital in serious condition.

The city has since experienced a 5 percent increase in murder over the same time period last year, a 27 percent increase in sexual assault cases and an 11 percent increase in shooting incidents, according to statistics released by the Chicago Police Department. 


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