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Carjacking suspect charged in shooting that wounded CPD officer

Chicago Police investigate in the 600 block of East 100th Place, after an officer suffered a graze wound to the face while trying to stop a carjacking suspect Tuesday night. | Network Video Productions

A 24-year-old carjacking suspect who was on probation for armed robbery has been charged in a shooting that wounded a Chicago Police officer during a high-speed chase Tuesday night on the South Side.

Charles Lawson opened fire on squad cars chasing him as he sped around the Roseland neighborhood in a car he had reportedly stolen, and 35-year-old Officer Brandon McDonald sustained a graze wound in his face in the melee.

Despite his injury, McDonald rejoined the chase after he and his partner pulled over to check the wound, according to dashcam video of the chase released by CPD on Wednesday, after charges against McDonald were filed.

“I’m f—— shot. I’m hit! I’m hit,” McDonald can be heard saying on the video. After checking the extent of his wounds, McDonald can be heard again before they resume their pursuit: “F – – – this s – – -. Let’s go get him.”

Charles Lawson | Chicago Police photo
Charles Lawson | Chicago Police photo

Lawson was charged with four counts of attempted murder, aggravated battery, possession of a stolen vehicle, aggravated hijacking and aggravated fleeing and eluding police, Chicago Police said.

About 10 p.m. Tuesday in the 600 block of East 100th Place, McDonald and his partner began tailing Lawson, who was riding in a black sedan matching the description of one reported stolen in a car-jacking moments earlier. After accelerating away from the officers, the chase began in earnest. After a few blocks, a gunshot is heard on the video, then another a few seconds later. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Tuesday that McDonald’s face was wounded as he sped behind Lawson in the 10000 block of South Eggleston.

As McDonald and his partner swerve to the side of the street, a second police vehicle takes the lead position in the pursuit, with officers reporting more gunshots before opening fire on Lawson’s sedan. Though a dozen gunshots were heard on the dashcam video, Guglielmi said Lawson was not struck.

On the video, Lawson’s vehicle can be seen swerving and colliding with a parked car, then coming to a stop as smoke rises from the front end of his car. Lawson tosses a pistol out the window onto the street before climbing out of the driver’s seat and crawling onto the ground.

Both videos capture McDonald storming up from his damaged squad car and marching the handcuffed Lawson into the back seat, cursing the suspect out as they walk.

“You’ll never see the light of day, son,” he tells the suspect as he stuffs Lawson into the back of the squad.

In police radio traffic picked up by the dashcam, officers report seeing someone “bailing out” of the car during the chase before Lawson crashed. From the back seat, Lawson seems to put the blame for the gunfire on his errant passenger.

“It wasn’t me, man,” Lawson shouts as McDonald walks away. “Y’all didn’t see him get out, man?”

Police didn’t mention another suspect in their statement. Department of Corrections records show Lawson served three months in prison on two counts of armed robbery without a firearm, and had been out on parole for less than four months.

McDonald was treated at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn for injuries that were not life-threatening. At the hospital Tuesday night, Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said McDonald would be fine, and that the shootout was an example of both the dangers of police work and the problem of repeat offenders finding ways to get firearms.

“The officer injured will be OK, but it just goes to show you, again, how people are out here with all these weapons and they’re not afraid to use them,” Johnson said.

“These police officers have a difficult job, every day, you know, they put their lives on the line,” he said. “We get scrutinized and criticized for everything we do, this is a difficult job, but they continue to do it despite everything going on. These officers knew that was a vehicle taken in a carjacking and they went to the vehicle, as opposed to away from it. The men and women of the Chicago Police Department are doing what they’re supposed to do, but this just illustrates how dangerous it is.”

At a press conference Wednesday, Johnson noted McDonald and his partner had been on patrol in the same neighborhood when they came across an elderly woman who appeared disoriented. The two officers figured out where the woman lived, and when they returned with her, discovered she had little food. In a story that was featured on local news, and became a viral hit, the two officers went to a nearby Jewel and returned with groceries for the woman, paid for out of their own pocket.

Contributing: Ashlee Rezin and Sam Charles