Routine stop touched off CPD Cmdr. Paul Bauer’s fatal struggle with gunman, officers testify

Officers said they spotted Shomari Legghette urinating on Lower Wacker Drive, starting a foot chase that ended with Bauer shot to death in the heart of the Loop.

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Shomari Legghette appears at his murder trial on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Shomari Legghette listens to opening statements in his trial for the murder of Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Chicago Tribune via AP Pool

In the perpetual twilight of Lower Wacker Drive, a pair of Chicago police tactical officers on patrol spotted a man in a long, dark coat adjusting his trousers as he stood near a support column.

“I think he’s taking a piss,” Officer Raymond Haran recalled saying to his partner that afternoon in February 2018. “Let’s stop him, talk to him.”

Shomari Legghette took off running when Haran called out to him, touching off a foot chase that ended when Cmdr. Paul Bauer — spotting Legghette after hearing Haran give a description over the radio — struggled with Legghette outside the Thompson Center. The two men tumbled down a nearby stairwell, where Legghette allegedly shot Bauer six times, killing the 31-year police veteran.

Haran Wednesday recounted the mundane start of the chase on the second day of testimony as Legghette stands trial for Bauer’s murder. Defense attorney Scott Kamin asked Haran whether Legghette, now 46, was within his rights to shrug off the officers if they just suspected him of nothing more than public urination.

“Legghette said, ‘No, I’m good,’ and he ran up the stairs,” Haran recalled of Legghette’s response. “During my career, I never had anybody run from me just for urinating, so I thought there might be something else there.”

Haran lost sight of Legghette, only laying eyes on him again outside the Thompson Center, as fellow officers held the handcuffed Legghette.

Kamin has argued Legghette didn’t know Bauer, 53, was a police officer, and that the shooting was self-defense. He also said Bauer escalated the pursuit of Legghette over what initially was a minor violation.

Cook County prosecutors have argued that Legghette — a convicted felon who was wearing body armor and carrying drugs and the 9-millimeter Glock pistol that he would later use to kill Bauer — fled to avoid arrest.

The three officers who arrested Legghette seconds after Bauer was shot, said Legghette seemed to weigh his options as they shouted at him and trained their guns on him from the top of the stairwell. Thomas Symanski, who ran to the staircase after hearing a barrage of gunshots, said he yelled at Legghette to lay on the stairs “a minimum of five times,” and that Legghette just stared up at him.

“How did his face look?” Assistant State’s Attorney John Maher asked Symanski, an investigator for the state attorney general.

“Very resolute. Very reluctant to follow the verbal commands,” until three officers, guns drawn, blocked the staircase, Symanski said.

Legghette in a letter to ABC-7 reporters purportedly claimed that Bauer was struck by “friendly fire” from fellow officers. Prosecutors have asked the three officers if they fired their weapons and each have said they did not.

Legghette is expected to testify in his own defense. The trial resumes Thursday.

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