A repeat felon with a decades-long rap sheet was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder of a police officer in the fatal shooting of Cmdr. Paul Bauer.
Shomari Legghette, 44, is also charged with aggravated use of a weapon by a felon and drug possession, officials say.
Legghette is accused of shooting Bauer multiple times in a stairwell at about 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Thompson Center.
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said at a news conference that Bauer was “executed.”
“He didn’t turn the other way and let somebody worry about it,” Johnson said of the hero cop.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel added about Bauer: “It wasn’t his rank that mattered. It was his responsibility that called. Paul Bauer was a public servant, top to bottom.”
Earlier that day, Bauer, who was wearing his uniform, had attended “active shooter” training in handling mass shootings. He was planning to meet later with aldermen at City Hall to discuss his efforts to quell violence in his Near North District.
Bauer was unable to fire his weapon during a struggle with Legghette in the stairwell, police said.
Bauer had spotted Legghette after he heard police radio traffic from tactical officers who were chasing him through the Loop. Legghette matched the description of a suspect running in a long, fur-lined coat, police said.
The officers wanted to talk to Legghette about a shooting on Lower Wacker Drive on Friday afternoon. Someone in a car had fired at a car traveling in the opposite direction, but no one was hit.
Police said they don’t know whether Legghette was involved in that incident but wanted to see if he knew anything about it.
Legghette had evaded the pursuing officers when Bauer spotted him on the street running south on Clark toward the Thompson Center and City Hall, police said.
The two men struggled in a staircase at the Thompson Center, and witnesses and an audio recording from a nearby taxicab showed seven shots were fired, police said.
The other officers came running to the scene and immediately arrested Legghette, who was found with drugs, wearing body armor and with a semiautomatic handgun with an extended clip with 30 rounds of ammunition, police said.
Police radio traffic on Tuesday afternoon described Bauer as being “off duty,” but a police spokesman said he was, in fact, on duty.
Legghette’s adult criminal record includes convictions for armed robbery, resisting a correctional officer and felony drug possession.
In 1998, he robbed a Forest Park couple in their driveway. Legghette claimed he was urinating when an acquaintance nicknamed “Trouble” pointed a pistol at a man in his car and ordered his wife to turn over her valuables.
Legghette was arrested after getting away in a car and running from police. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison for the holdup, according to documents in his unsuccessful appeal.
More recently, Legghette was charged in 2014 with selling heroin to a man. Five baggies of the drug and $138 were found on him. He was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx stressed the weight of the charges against Legghette.
“There is no more serious offense than the killing of a police officer in the line of duty,” she said.
On Wednesday, a Sun-Times reporter visited Legghette’s last listed address in the 4700 block of South Champlain.
A man on the block identified himself as Legghette’s father but wouldn’t give his name. Asked if had any comment on the pending charges against Legghette, he said, “Did he shoot the police?” before walking inside.
Of Bauer, Johnson said: “This department didn’t just lose an exemplary police officer, the city lost a piece of itself and a family lost a loving father and husband.”
With his voice cracking, Emanuel offered his support to Bauer’s wife and daughter.
“Erin and Grace, we love you,” he said. “To the Bauer family, to the family of CPD, on behalf of the 2.8 million Chicagoans, we are holding you in our hearts. We will see to it that Paul’s legacy of public service, of decency and duty lives on.”
Bauer, 53, lived with his wife and 13-year-old daughter in the Bridgeport neighborhood. He was the distant cousin of Officer Martin Darcy Jr., who was fatally shot in the line of duty in 1982, authorities confirmed.
Bauer’s killing was the first time an officer has been shot to death in the line of duty since 2011.
Bauer is remembered for his efforts to reach out to residents of his district to hear their concerns about crime. He was outspoken in his views that the criminal justice system isn’t doing enough to lock up repeat offenders.
Not a lot is known about Legghette’s background, except for his criminal record.
News stories say he played high-school basketball for Dunbar Vocational, with 23 points and eight rebounds attributed to him in one game in 1991.
But people who know Legghette say he didn’t stay on the basketball team through his senior year and was basically in trouble since then.
Contributing: Michael O’Brien