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In December, Kim Foxx opposed cop-killer’s parole bid. In July, she no longer did. She won’t say why.

Ex-police Supt. Phil Cline’s furious about the Cook County state’s attorney’s new stance on Ronnie Carrasquillo, who shot Officer Terrence Loftus in the head in 1976 on the NW Side.

Ronnie Carrasquillo was a gang member in 1976 when he shot Officer Terrence Loftus in the head at Fullerton and Central Park on the Northwest Side.
Ronnie Carrasquillo was a gang member in 1976 when he shot Officer Terrence Loftus in the head at Fullerton and Central Park on the Northwest Side.
Illinois Department of Corrections

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx urged the state parole board late last year to keep cop-killer Ronnie Carrasquillo in prison.

Then, she changed her mind. In July, Foxx sent the board a two-sentence letter saying she no longer opposed parole for Carrasquillo, who fatally shot Chicago police Officer Terrence Loftus in 1976.

Her office won’t talk about what prompted the change. Her letter gave no explanation.

Carrasquillo remains behind bars. The Illinois Prisoner Review Board denied him parole by a narrow margin in December and again last month.

Chicago police officers, already at odds with Foxx over her handling of the Jussie Smollett case and other issues, are ripping her for changing her stance on Carrasquillo.

Phil Cline, the former Chicago police superintendent who heads the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, says he asked to meet with Foxx about that, and she “politely declined.”

“I believe this was a political favor for another politician,” Cline says. “I’ve never seen anything like this before. In the past, we’ve worked closely with the state’s attorney’s office. The families are still affected by this. Their loved one is never coming back.”

Carrasquillo, 62, who shot Loftus as the off-duty officer tried to break up a gang fight on the Northwest Side, was sentenced to 200 to 600 years in prison for murder.

He’s one of five current Illinois prisoners sentenced before 1978 for killing Chicago cops. All were classified with a “C number” when they entered prison. C-number prisoners are entitled to a parole hearing at least every five years. Today, people convicted of first-degree murder in Illinois must serve their sentences without any possibility of parole.

In December, the Illinois Prisoner Review Board voted 7-6 in favor of Carrasquillo being paroled. But he needed eight votes to get the required majority of 14 board members.

Before that vote, the board heard from his sister-in-law, who said her family would provide him with a job and home in Indiana. His lawyer told the board he’d reformed in prison.

Countering that, the board was given a petition signed by 2,000 people opposing his release.

And it heard from Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Joseph Alexander, who said Carrasquillo shouldn’t get out, citing the serious nature of the crime, the risk he wouldn’t abide by the conditions of parole and his involvement with a gang in prison.

Seven months later, Foxx changed her position. She sent the board a letter July 7 saying she “does not oppose the granting of parole” for Carrasquillo, adding: “While the people will not mount an opposition if the inmate is granted parole, we have no opinion as to whether the Prisoner Review Board should grant the inmate a rehearing.”

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, after winning the Democratic primary in March, is seeking a second term.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, after winning the Democratic primary in March, is seeking a second term.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia / Sun-Times

Based on Foxx’s letter and also saying he feared being exposed to the coronavirus in prison, Carrasquillo asked for a rehearing. The board granted him one, which is rare. But once again it denied him parole in September by the same narrow margin.

A representative of Foxx attending the hearing told the board the state’s attorney didn’t question the facts in the case but that, after a review, would neither oppose nor support Carrasquillo’s parole bid without giving any reason for the change in position, according to a source who was at the meeting.

Carrasquillo’s next parole hearing will be in September 2021.

The letter Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx sent to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board on July 7.
The letter Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx sent to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board on July 7.
Cook County state’s attorney’s office

Police officers already were incensed over Foxx’s decision last year to drop charges against Smollett, who was accused of staging a racist attack on himself. The actor agreed to community service and to forfeit his $10,000 bail. In February, Smollett was re-indicted after an investigation by a special prosecutor.

Patrick O’Brien, a former judge and prosecutor who is Foxx’s Republican opponent in November, has painted her as soft on crime and gotten the endorsement of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police. Foxx has said she focuses on prosecuting violent criminals rather than petty offenders.

Cline says his foundation sent 15 uniformed Chicago cops on a bus to Springfield to Carrasquillo’s Sept. 24 hearing to show opposition to his parole request.

Loftus’ widow and the head of Gold Star Families, a support group for fallen Chicago officers, sent letters to Foxx and the board in opposition.

Phil Cline, who was Chicago police superintendent from 2003 to 2007, now heads the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
Phil Cline, who was Chicago police superintendent from 2003 to 2007, now heads the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
Sun-Times file

In 2015, the board paroled Joseph Bigsby, convicted of fatally shooting Chicago police Officer Edward Barron in 1972. In August, the board granted parole to James Taylor, convicted of killing Layton Davis, an Illinois State Police trooper, during a traffic stop on Interstate 57 near Effingham in 1976.

Bruce Sharp and Lee Jones — convicted of killing Chicago cops in the 1970s — were freed from prison in July, not on parole but after their 100-year sentences were cut in half for good behavior, and they’d served their time.

Four other men — Charles Connolly, Johnny Veal, George Knights and Joseph Hurst — remain in prison for killing Chicago police officers in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

At least seven other men are in prison for killing Chicago cops since 1999 —none eligible for parole because of Illinois’ truth-in-sentencing law.

Carrasquillo shot Loftus on Oct. 10, 1976, near Fullerton and Central Park avenues.

Loftus was driving away from a police station after ending his shift when he stopped to help a man being chased by a group. A fight erupted on the street between the Imperial Spanish Gangsters and the Gaylords.

Carrasquillo, who was a member of the Imperial Spanish Gangsters, shot in the direction of the crowd and struck Loftus in the head. He later testified he aimed 30 feet over Loftus’ head to break up the fight and “scare the person that was holding onto my friend.”

Officer Terrence Loftus.
Officer Terrence Loftus.
Chicago Police Memorial Foundation

Before Carrasquillo was sentenced, Thomas Breen, who prosecuted him, told the judge that “his act, like most murders, is an act of cowardice.”

At Carrasquillo’s parole hearing in December, though, a letter from Breen was presented supporting parole. “Even back in 1976, he appeared to be one of those who deeply felt that what he had done was so senseless,” wrote Breen, now a criminal defense lawyer.