Suspect charged with murder of CPD Cmdr. Paul Bauer had a long record

SHARE Suspect charged with murder of CPD Cmdr. Paul Bauer had a long record
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Shomari Legghette is charged in the shooting death of Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer. | CPD Photo

Shomari Legghette had four felony convictions on his record already when a Chicago Police officer called out to him on Lower Wacker Drive Tuesday afternoon.

According to police, Legghette was wearing a long, fur-trimmed coat, but more problematic for someone with his criminal record were other accessories he had with him: a bulletproof vest, 9-millimeter Glock pistol, and a few grams of heroin and cocaine. Legghette took off running.

The officers put out his description on the radio, drawing the attention of 18th District Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer, who was leaving a training session at the Thompson Center. Bauer spotted Legghette running on Clark Street, chased him into a stairwell outside the government building, where prosecutors say Legghette shot the 31-year police veteran six times.

The first-degree murder charge Legghette now faces is the most serious on a rap sheet checkered with minor drug arrests, parole violations and an armed robbery conviction. At 44, he had spent roughly a quarter of his life behind bars. If officers that had hailed him on Lower Wacker caught him just with the gun, it likely would have meant another arrest and perhaps his longest prison term yet.

Legghette likely knew what kind of time he faced: He’d been arrested for packing a gun and wearing a bullet-proof vest in 2007. But if Legghette seems incorrigible, he is not exceptional among murder suspects working their way through the criminal courts in Cook County.

Half the suspects arrested for in shootings or murders in 2016 had a prior arrest for violent crime, according to statistics compiled by the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago. On average, suspects arrested in murder cases had a dozen prior arrests.

The most serious charges Legghette had faced before this past week were for a 1998 armed robbery, and, according to former Cook County judge Daniel Locallo, the 16-year sentence he received was fairly stiff.

In fact, court records indicate Legghette’s sentence was twice as long as that the one his co-defendant received — probably because the co-defendant pleaded guilty — even though the co-defendant held a gun during the stickup and drove the getaway car in a high-speed chase with police, while Legghette was unarmed.

Legghette’s subsequent cases all ended with guilty pleas that likely helped him get shorter sentences for lesser charges, Locallo said. That, too, is not unusual in the criminal courts, especially in cases that don’t involve violent acts.

“It’s just hard to say what was going on in those cases, how strong the evidence was,” Locallo said. “Judges don’t have crystal balls, and prosecutors don’t have crystal balls. When you make decisions you have to go on the factual data that you have. You shouldn’t be making decision entirely based on what possibly could happen after someone has finished a sentence.”

Legghette now faces a charge of first-degree murder of a police officer, which carries a sentence of life in prison.

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