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Police superintendent David Brown seems to be exaggerating links to the mass shootings in the Back of the Yards – Chicago Tribune

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About 15 hours after a corner was shelled in the Back of Yards area on Tuesday, killing one person and injuring four, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown held a news conference to inform the public about the mass shootings.

Brown said the long-running gang conflict led to several shootings, including the one he focused on, and said police knew how it all started: a 28-year-old high-ranking gang member who was “recently released” from federal prison and whose brother was fatally shot in April was a driver of violence.

Also, just a month before the shooting, a man was stopped in the backyard with a gun and was released on $ 1,000 bail, Brown said.

“We believe he is free from monetary obligations based on our intelligence that has been driving this violence in retaliation between the two gangs for the past six weeks,” Brown said.

Brown went on to say that the Police Department was “in talks” with the Cook County Attorney’s Office to cancel the man’s obligations.

But a review of Tribune’s public documents shows that some of the details related to Brown were at least inflated and, at worst, inaccurate.

The Tribune could not find any information that the man was serving a term in federal prison. And although he served time in state prison on charges of weapons and assault, he was released from state prison two years ago – in March 2020, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

This is not the first time the information provided by the police department has been challenged. In January, Mayor Lori Lightfoot relied on the Police Department’s list of alleged repeat offenders to ask the Cook County Chief Justice to immediately stop hoping for electronic control for some of the accused. A review of these Tribune records revealed, however, erroneous data, including incorrect allegations for some of those on the list.

The comment about the release of the man, whom Brown identified from prison, was typical because, despite the fact that there are often tensions on the street when people return home after imprisonment, it usually happens closer to the release date, experts say. .

In his remarks, Brown focused on the April shooting of the man’s brother as an incident that led to a retaliatory shooting. But he also mentioned his release from prison, citing agency data.

“Why this happened is that a few weeks ago a high-ranking member of one of these groups was released on parole, on parole, after three years in federal penitentiary,” Brown said. “He was then arrested on March 27 by our officers for possession of a weapon as a criminal. He gets a cash deposit. Almost a month later, on April 19, his brother was killed, I suppose, by a member of a rival gang. And since April we have been witnessing an escalation of violence between them. “

It seemed that other city authorities at the press conference also picked up the mention of the release of this man from prison, and one of them noted that “returning citizens” can have peace agreements.

But it was Brown’s decision to name the man that caused alarm for legal observers and law enforcement sources. This was a significant departure from the usual police practice, where the names of the offenders were announced only after they were named in an arrest warrant or indictment.

“If they thought they had enough to establish a probable cause, they had to go to a judge to demand an arrest warrant,” said Catherine Crawford, a Chicago civil defense attorney. “(Brown) doesn’t even say he committed the offense. He says he is responsible. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I was horrified. My immediate thought was, “How can he do that?”

Although Brown has named the man, the Tribune does not publish his identity because the newspaper only publishes the names of those named in official indictments.

On Thursday, the man made a statement to the Tribune through his lawyer, Robert L. Rashi, in which he said he was “very concerned about the safety of his family and his own (security)” and called the head’s statements “very inappropriate and inflammatory.” ”

Asked why the man’s name should be mentioned, the Chicago Police Department’s News Department issued a statement Wednesday, without touching on the issue:

“The Chicago Police Department’s top priority is public safety throughout the city,” the statement said. “We will not tolerate violence anywhere in our communities. Each shooting is carefully investigated for motives, as we are working to identify, detain and prosecute those responsible for violent crimes in our areas. “

The office did not comment further on Thursday.

Hours after the press conference, a man named Brown posted a photo of him and his identity on other websites.

“I would say it’s very inappropriate (to call him),” said Tanya Dimitrova, a Chicago criminal defense attorney representing people accused of gang-related activities.

“Especially if he has not been charged. Posting his name may provoke an additional reaction, ”Dimitrova said. “Perhaps gang members, but also citizens who are concerned about the rise in violence by the group, who may take the leader’s word for purity and blame this man.”

And although Brown’s comments potentially put the person at risk, some said the risk would extend to the public and police who work daily in the backyards to calm tensions.

“He is threatening everyone,” said Gal Pisetsky, a longtime criminal lawyer who also represented high-ranking gang members. “Instead of trying to end the violence and unite everyone, it’s the exact opposite.”

Pisecki also said that while the man’s name may mean nothing to the general public, it has for those involved in ongoing street conflicts.

“The people you need to pay attention to are the people in the gangs,” he said. “They immediately think, ‘Who’s the snitch?’

Undoubtedly, there is a surge of fire in the Back of the Yards. About 20 people were shot dead in the Deering police district, which includes the Backyard between April 17 and May 12, according to official statistics.

This includes the 29-year-old brother of a man named Brown, who was killed on April 19. According to Chicago police, he was standing in his neighborhood when someone opened fire.

A month earlier, during an arrest in March 2022, a man allegedly confessed to an officer that he had a gun, but to protect himself and his family. .

“I have it for my protection,” a police report quoted him as saying, “The perpetrator said he essentially bought a firearm to protect his family because people were shooting at him.”

On Thursday, returning to the neighborhood, about 50 people gathered near the scene of the shooting on the southern streets of Hell as Rev. David Kelly of the Ministry of Precious Blood of Reconciliation led them in prayer.

Among them was 43-year-old Rosalba Jimenez, whose 19-year-old son Edward was shot two days before Jimenez was surrounded by her children when dozens of white, green and red star-shaped balls were released. At least three marked Chicago police cars were sitting nearby.

“I love my son so much,” she said at one point during the vigil. “He was a good man with a good heart.”

Kelly spoke Spanish and English to a crowd that included family, neighbors holding Modelo beer or the hands of young children, outreach workers and members of the gang to which police said the victims belonged.

“We are coming together today to celebrate our faith, even in the midst of our pain, resentment and anger, to nevertheless call on our God not to be far away, not to be far away,” Kelly said. “We pray especially for Eduardo Jimenez.”

When Kelly asked to comment on Edward in the crowd, the 19-year-old boy, who was a friend of Edward’s, asked to speak.

“He’s a real brother, you know what I’m saying? He looked at a lot of people. … His name will live forever, ”the man said. “He will never be forgotten. He is resting in the best place. He doesn’t need to worry. He should not strain. … And I hope he is doing well there. “

A 19-year-old friend spoke to the Tribune after prayer and he said he was there when the shooting happened. He said he heard what Brown said about the shooting, and said, “That’s all (swearing).”

A friend said he did not believe the murder, which took place last month, was the cause of Tuesday’s shooting, which took the life of his friend.

“It seems to me that this is a gangster war that has been going on since childhood,” he said.

According to Chicago police, as of Thursday afternoon there were no arrests as a result of the shooting.

“We are called a competing gang,” the man said. “If you’re a cop, you have to serve all parties, every party, everyone.”

asweeney@chicagotribune.com

pfry@chicagotribune.com

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