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Kim Foxx recuses herself from case involving Chicago activist

Activist Jedidiah Brown looks on as his lawyer, Jon Erickson, talks to reporters Tuesday after a hearing at which Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx announced her office would turn over Brown's misdemeanor case to a court-appointed special prosecutor. Police officers involved in Brown's July 2018 arrest at a protest asked for a special prosecutor after noting Brown was on the stage with Foxx at a news conference earlier this month. | Andy Grimm for the Sun-Times

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has recused her office from a battery case involving a local activist and former aldermanic candidate, after police officers involved in the arrest complained that Foxx and the activist shared the stage at a press event two weeks ago.

At a hearing Tuesday, Foxx’s office agreed to step aside and let a judge appoint a special prosecutor to handle a misdemeanor case against activist Jedidiah Brown, who was arrested at a protest in July and is accused of battering police officers, resisting arrest and blocking traffic.

Eight officers involved in the arrest filed a petition demanding a special prosecutor, claiming Foxx has a conflict of interest after an April 6 press conference at Rainbow/PUSH Coalition headquarters, where Brown, Congressman Bobby Rush and others rallied for the embattled state’s attorney amid the fallout from the controversial dismissal of charges against “Empire” star Jussie Smollett.

Assistant State’s Attorney Jeff Allen said Brown was never an employee of Foxx’s campaign and that she didn’t know he had a pending case when she posed for a selfie with Brown.

“He was not a paid employee and… the state’s attorney had no idea there was a pending matter when the photo was taken” following the press conference, Allen said.

Brown is charged with resisting arrest during a protest in 2018. The motion alleges that Brown punched an officer and kicked another while he was being arrested in South Shore. After the hearing Tuesday, a Foxx spokeswoman issued a statement via email.

“While we believe that there is no legal conflict, given the unique circumstances of this case, we have no objection to the appointment of a special prosecutor,” the statement said. “State’s Attorney Foxx has not been involved in any aspect of the charging or prosecution of the pending misdemeanor case involving Jedidiah Brown.”

The attorney for the officers, James McKay, said his clients were “stunned” when they saw footage of the Rainbow/PUSH press conference. McKay said recusing the office was “the right thing to do.”

James McKay, who is representing officers involved in the July 2018 arrest of activist Jedidiah Brown, addresses reporters as Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Martin Preib (left) looks on. | Andy Grimm for the Sun-Times
James McKay, who is representing officers involved in the July 2018 arrest of activist Jedidiah Brown, addresses reporters as Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Martin Preib (left) looks on. | Andy Grimm for the Sun-Times

“It’s real simple: if a man has a pending criminal case, the state’s attorney shouldn’t have any contact with that person. She shouldn’t be talking to that person. She certainly shouldn’t be posing for photographs with him,” said McKay, a former prosecutor. “The eight officers that I represent were stunned when they saw the man they arrested at that press conference with Ms. Foxx. How in God’s name can they even suspect or believe that they’re going to get a fair shot at that trial?”

McKay represented ex-Chicago Police Det. David March, one of three officers acquitted on charges of helping cover up the shooting of Laquan McDonald — a case that was handled by a special prosecutor.

Brown says the filing is a “political gang bang” meant to keep the news about Foxx negative.

An attorney for several Chicago police officer alleges a selfie that Jedidiah Brown posted of him with Kim Foxx shows a special prosecutor is needed in Brown’s pending case. | provided
An attorney for several Chicago police officer alleges a selfie that Jedidiah Brown posted of him with Kim Foxx shows a special prosecutor is needed in Brown’s pending case. | provided

“I’ve never worked with the campaign, never got paid by the campaign,” Brown told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’m a well known advocate in the community… Because I’ve leveled my support with her, they’re trying to make me a political casualty.”

Brown’s lawyer, Jon Erickson, said that appointing a special prosecutor would delay Brown’s case, an issue he intends to raise Wednesday, at a previously scheduled hearing in the case.

At the April Rainbow/PUSH news conference, Rush called out the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents the bulk of CPD officers, as “the sworn enemy of black people.” McKay said anti-police statements made by Rush and at the event, with no “repudiation” from Foxx, might disqualify the office from handling any cases in which police officers are victims.

“Her silence speaks volumes,” McKay said.

Tuesday, FOP Vice President Martin Preib watched the hearing and looked on as McKay and Erickson addressed reporters.

“What you saw today was a battle between the (Fraternal Order of Police) and Kim Foxx, and my client was used as a pawn in that battle,” Erickson told reporters after the hearing.

Erickson said Brown volunteered for Foxx’s campaign, but was never a paid employee. “He wanted Kim Foxx because he believes in restorative justice and this was long before he was charged,” Erickson said.

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