A trail of online sales of Zach Emanuel’s stolen iPhone led the Chicago Police Department to one of the two suspects authorities say mugged Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s son in December near the family’s North Side home.
The now-18-year-old man arrested in the attack and robbery — which occurred on a mid-December night across the street from the mayor’s heavily guarded house in Ravenswood — sold the phone online to another man who, in turn, sold it to a woman through Facebook, according to the police.
“When the woman who bought the phone tried to activate it with her mobile provider, it didn’t work,” police spokesman Martin Maloney said. “She took it to a small retailer, who ran it through a database. The retailer saw it had been reported stolen, and they gave her the phone number it had been associated with.”
The woman contacted Zach Emanuel, and “he connected her with police,” Maloney said.
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These new details about the case — from interviews, police reports and court records — have come to light as Phillip Payne is set to face trial Monday in Cook County juvenile court in the mugging.
Normally, the police wouldn’t release the name of a juvenile charged with a crime. But Payne, who was 17 at the time of the attack on Emanuel’s son, turned 18 on Jan. 30. A week later, on Feb. 6, he was arrested as an adult for another crime: lying to the police about his identity, according to police reports and court records.
In the following days, Cook County prosecutors charged Payne as a juvenile in the Emanuel robbery. They say he has admitted punching the mayor’s son, snatching his iPhone and demanding he provide the code to use it.
Though the police have charged only one person, “there is an ongoing investigation into a second offender,” who Zach Emanuel told the police held him in a chokehold and ran off with Payne, Maloney said. He declined to elaborate, citing the pending investigation.
According to police and court records, Payne is an admitted member of the Black P Stones street gang’s Wicked City faction. Its members hang out around Sunnyside and Magnolia, records show, roughly 1 mile from Emanuel’s home.
Payne is currently serving a year of juvenile court probation for possessing a stolen vehicle — a crime he was charged with last September, records show.
The robbery of Zach Emanuel happened about 10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 19. The mayor’s son told the police he had been walking north in the 4200 block of North Hermitage, across from his family’s home, and talking on his cellphone. Zach Emanuel said the two men jumped him from behind.
Security cameras near the mayor’s house didn’t capture the robbery.
Zach Emanuel wasn’t asked to identify Payne in a lineup or photo array. He never got a good look at either of his assailants, and the evidence in the case is strong, according to Maloney.
“Payne gave a full confession as to his role in the robbery,” Maloney said.
By the time of Payne’s Feb. 6 arrest, he already had been identified as a suspect in the mugging. The trail that led to him started with the Emanuels, who, according to Maloney, “had kept a record of the phone’s serial number” that was added “to a database carriers and retailers use to determine if a phone has been stolen.”
Eight hours after the robbery, the deactivated iPhone was put up for sale, and the man who bought it from Payne then resold it on Facebook, according to the police.
After contacting Zach Emanuel, the woman who bought the phone cooperated with police, leading detectives to the man who sold it to her, and he identified Payne.
“Cases with these facts are solved almost every time, if not every time,” Maloney said. “When detectives have information — like a serial number — to work with, it makes catching the offender a much more manageable task.”