Gunman found guilty of murdering CPD Cmdr. Paul Bauer
Shomari Legghette, 46, was found guilty on all counts of murder and armed violence charges. The jury also found that Legghette knew Bauer was a police officer when he shot him in a downtown stairwell in February 2018.
A Cook County jury Friday found four-time felon Shomari Legghette guilty of the 2018 murder of Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer.
Seated in the front-row courtroom seat she had occupied for most of the trial, Bauer’s widow, Erin Bauer, showed little reaction as a clerk read off guilty verdicts on each of the six counts against 46-year-old Legghette.
Legghette, standing several feet from from Bauer’s family and rows of CPD officers, showed no emotion when the verdicts were read. He faces 45 years to life in prison.
Bauer’s family issued a statement, thanking the prosecution team, witnesses to the crime and the jury.
“Today is a bittersweet day for everyone who loved Paul,” the statement from the family read. “We are so happy and relieved with the verdict, but we are overwhelmed with sadness that he is no longer with us.”
Jurors took three hours to reach their decision after seven days of testimony, which included video evidence and a cabbie’s account of Bauer chasing after Legghette through the Loop in broad daylight.
Legghette’s defense hinged on whether jurors would believe his version of what happened in the 30 seconds or so after he and 53-year-old Bauer tumbled out of sight into a stairwell and gunshots rang out.
Making the case to convict Legghette of first-degree murder, Assistant State’s Attorney John Maher pointed out that the two men were in the stairwell near the Thompson Center for 25 seconds, and that Legghette was larger and stronger than the Near North District commander. The first of six gunshots that hit Bauer, Maher said, was to the chest, and another shot hit Bauer on the inner forearm — indicating Bauer was facing Legghette and holding his handcuffs.
“Outmuscled, outsized, outgunned. Commander Bauer is down there 25 seconds before [Legghette] pulled the trigger. His radio squawking, his cuffs out,” Maher said. “When those cuffs came out, Legghette knew he was going back, and that was not going to happen. So he [Legghette] shot him down.”
Defense attorney Scott Kamin said Legghette was a small-time drug dealer who made a habit of wearing body armor and carrying a pistol as protection against rivals. Kamin had pinned responsibility for the deadly encounter on Bauer, who escalated the pursuit of Legghette after other officers had spotted him urinating on a column on Lower Wacker Drive.
Legghette didn’t realize Bauer was a police officer even as he chased him, Kamin maintained, arguing that the police veteran’s badge and other identifiers were concealed by his winter coat.
“It wasn’t Commander Bauer’s job to work a beat, to chase after people,” Kamin said. “He forgot that he didn’t appear as a police officer… they would see him as a person using violence.”
In opening arguments, Kamin said Legghette would take the stand to describe how Bauer pulled him down the stairs and put him in a chokehold, prompting Legghette to draw his gun. But the defense rested on Thursday with Legghette declining to testify, a decision Kamin told reporters likely doomed the self-defense argument.
“It definitely hurts not to be able to show the evidence that we had anticipated showing,” Kamin said after court Friday. “I couldn’t give the detailed account that I wanted…nobody knows just what happened down there.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Risa Lanier disagreed, saying there was “quite a lot of evidence” against Legghette.
“Now the healing can begin,” she said.