The father of a former Marine wiped tears from his face Sunday as a Cook County prosecutor detailed how two alleged attackers pushed his son into a moving Red Line train last week, causing him to be dragged into a metal partition and killed.
The former serviceman, 29-year-old Mamadou Balde, was hanging around Tuesday evening at the Jackson Street station when a brief and seemingly trivial altercation culminated in his death. Ryan Munn, 18, has since been charged with first-degree murder in Balde’s killing after, prosecutors say, he admitted to taking part in the attack, which was captured on surveillance video.
During a virtual court call using the Zoom application, Judge David Navarro denied bail for Munn and said his alleged actions were “indicative of wanton cruelty and a callous attitude toward the value of human life.” Munn’s unnamed co-defendant remains at large.
After Sunday’s hearing, Balde’s father, Al Balde, said he hopes his son’s alleged killers will ultimately “receive justice.” A veteran of the U.S. Marines who served in Afghanistan, Balde “died homeless and penniless after all he had done for the country,” his father said.
“This man went to fight for this country [for] four years,” Al Balde noted. “In his life, he did everything.”
Around 5:10 p.m. Tuesday, an apparently intoxicated Balde was approaching passengers at the station’s Red Line platform when he started talking to Munn’s accomplice, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Christina Dracopoulos.
After turning his back to the suspect, a southbound train pulled into the station and the doors opened and closed while Balde put his arms up “as if he was jokingly putting up his dukes to fight,” Dracopoulos said. Balde was still smiling when the suspect punched him in the face and knocked him backwards.
When Munn allegedly jumped in to “assist his friend,” Dracopoulos said the duo pushed Balde against the train. Balde then fell between two train cars and was dragged along the platform at “a high rate of speed” as he attempted to dislodge himself.
Dracopoulos said Balde’s head and upper body ultimately slammed into a metal partition inside the tunnel, causing his death. Both attackers quickly took off, with Munn hopping on a train traveling in the other direction.
Stills taken from surveillance video of the attack were shown to officers in the 18th District, who recognized both suspects and gave their names to detectives to create photo lineups, said Dracopoulos. Witnesses at the scene positively identified Munn and the other suspect.
After Munn was taken into custody, prosecutors said he admitted to swinging at Balde and pushing him out of a sense of loyalty to the other suspect. Dracopoulos said Munn further claimed he was “only trying to hurt the victim and push him onto the ground.”
Munn’s public defender, Courtney Smallwood, said her client was merely coming to the aid of the other suspect and characterized Balde’s death as “an absolutely tragic accident.” Smallwood said Munn is a lifelong Chicago resident with no criminal background as she urged Navarro to release him on electronic monitoring.
“He’s clearly not been a danger to the community at this point and has previously indicated this is an accident,” Smallwood said.
The judge disagreed with Smallwood’s claims that Balde’s death was accidental and that her client was merely helping the other attacker, shooting back that Munn poses “a real and present threat to the safety of the community.” Navarro denied bail for Munn and set his next court date for Friday.
After the hearing, Al Balde said he was shocked to hear exactly how his son died.
“Throwing someone alive into a moving train, you will never, never hate someone more than that,” he said.