In a courtroom packed with Chicago Police officers, a Cook County judge on Wednesday sentenced convicted cop killer Bernard Williams to 76 years in prison for the 2010 murder of SWAT team officer David Blake.
When asked if he wanted to make a statement before Judge Lawrence Flood handed down his sentence, Williams rose from his seat and turned to face the police officers, who lined courtroom pews on the opposite side of the aisle from about a dozen of Williams’ relatives.
“I’m sorry for your all’s loss, but I did not commit this crime,” Williams said, drawing scowls from a handful of officers.
Prosecutors said that Blake, 45, had been a friend and mentor to Williams – then the teenage brother of Blake’s girlfriend.
Williams, Assistant State’s Attorney Arunas Buntinas said, returned that kindness by plotting to trick the veteran officer into driving to a secluded alley in a South Side neighborhood and shooting him.
“Instead of taking the advice David Blake was giving with regard to moving forward and doing good, (Williams) chose to lure him to his death and execute him,” Buntinas said.
Blake’s cousin, Michael Stanton, said he had grown up with Blake and wanted to follow him into a law enforcement career. Now a corrections officer in Florida, Stanton said his cousin enjoyed visits down South to escape the stress of police work, but planned to stay in Chicago until he retired.
Reading from notes, Stanton addressed Williams in court.
“I have no sympathy for you, no pity for you, and most of all, I have no forgiveness,” Stanton said. “Given that they have gotten rid of the death penalty…I hope they lock you up for natural life.”
Including the seven years he has been jailed since his arrest, Williams’ sentence— 55 years for a count of first-degree murder, with another 21 tacked on for armed robbery — will keep him locked up until at least 2086. Williams was 18 when he was arrested a month after the killing.
Blake was a member of the CPD SWAT team, and also played on the Enforcers, a tackle football team made up of law enforcement officers.
A police officer who declined to give his name to a reporter said fellow officers had become a surrogate family to Blake, an only child whose parents died years before his murder.
Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Martin Preib attended the sentencing, and gave reporters a written statement from union President Kevin Graham.
“Officer Blake was a kind-hearted, compassionate and committed police officer senselessly and tragically murdered while off-duty,” Preib said reading the statement, which noted that the sentencing came”during a difficult week for police officers in Chicago and across the country.”
Williams was convicted in April, after a two-week trial that saw his sister — who had been dating Blake — take the stand as a witness for the prosecution. Photographs introduced as evidence showed Blake hosting Williams and his teenage friends, letting them pose with guns and rifles from his collection.
Prosecutors said Williams became fixated on the guns, and repeatedly discussed plans to steal them and sell them.
The night of the murder, Williams called Blake to ask for a ride, directing Blake into a neighborhood of bungalow-lined streets in the 2900 block of West Seipp. There, Williams shot Blake in the face and ran off with the police officer’s keys. Police had swarmed to Blake’s house before Williams could get back and take the guns, but two of Williams’ friends testified that he bragged about the killing that night.