The widow of slain Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer has sued the website used to sell the gun tied to her husband’s murder.
The 9-millimeter Glock pistol that four-time felon Shomari Legghette allegedly used to kill Bauer in 2018 was sold by a Wisconsin man on Armslist.com, one of the nation’s largest online gun marketplaces.
According to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in Milwaukee by Bauer’s wife, Erin, and the nonprofit gun control group Brady, the site negligently allowed sales of weapons without background checks, allowing Legghette to get his hands on the alleged murder weapon.
Other websites have features that prevent unlicensed sellers from selling guns in large numbers, and from selling to customers who are legally barred from owning firearms, said Jonathan Lowy, chief counsel for Brady.
“We can’t know what would have happened if Armslist was not negligent...but we do know what did happen: someone who should not have had a gun was able to get one, and a police commander is dead,” Lowy said.
The gun was sold by Madison resident 68-year-old Thomas Caldwell to Milwaukee resident Ron Jones in 2017, and found its way through the “criminal marketplace” to Legghette, who was carrying the weapon and wearing body armor as he fled from police on Lower Wacker Drive, the lawsuit states. Legghette encountered Bauer near the Thompson Center, and allegedly struggled with the veteran officer in a stairwell, shooting Bauer six times.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, and to force Armslist to adopt policies that would prevent unlicensed sellers and sales to people barred from owning guns. If successful, the lawsuit would mark the first time an online gun marketplace had been held liable for a killing involving weapons sold from the platform.
Jury selection in Legghette’s murder trial is expected to start later this month at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
Caldwell was sentenced in 2018 to three years in prison for selling guns without a license. Jones appears set to plead guilty to federal gun and drug charges next month, according to court records.
Officials for Armslist, which has been sued four times by Brady, did not respond to requests for comment.