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Man accused of firing at Chicago Police officers didn’t know they were cops and was just protecting himself, lawyer says

Nokomis Jefferson, 29, wasn’t present at his bond hearing Sunday because he was hospitalized after he was wounded in the exchange of gunfire. His bail was originally set at $1 million.

Cook County Criminal Courts, 2601 S. California Blvd. Sun-Times file

A man accused of firing at Chicago police officers in University Village on Christmas Eve didn’t know he was shooting at cops and was just trying to scare off gunmen who were coming at him, his attorney argued Monday.

“I’m not going to opine whether that was the correct approach or not,” said Cierra Norris, attorney for Nokomis Jefferson.

But the prosecutor countered that Jefferson had plenty of warning that they were police, and a judge agreed to hold him without bail on felony charges of attempted murder and unlawful use of a weapon.

Jefferson, 29, was wounded in the exchange of gunfire with the officers around 10 p.m. Friday on the Near West Side. The officers were not hurt.

Police monitoring a Chicago Housing Authority surveillance camera feed had seen Jefferson removing a gun from his waistband and holding it at his side as cars passed, Cook County prosecutors said.

When two officers in an unmarked car approached Jefferson, he began to run and turned and fired at one of the officers, according to Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy .

Jefferson hid behind a parked car and fired again at both officers, he said. Then he ran to the nearby 12th District police station parking lot and placed his hands on a car, waiting for officers to arrest him, Murphy said.

Jefferson, struck by gunfire, was taken to Stroger Hospital where he was stabilized. A gun was recovered under the car where Jefferson was hiding, Murphy said.

Jefferson didn’t appear at his initial bond hearing Sunday when his bail was set at $1 million. On Monday, Murphy re-read the state’s case against Jefferson and asked the judge to deny bail.

He noted that Jefferson has previously been charged with aggravated assault of a police officer and had been out on bond for a separate weapons charge at the time of the shooting.

But Norris, Jefferson’s attorney, said the officers were in “plain clothes” and had “guns drawn immediately” as they approached Jefferson. She called it a “jump-out situation” and argued that her client’s gunfire was intended to “back someone off.”

Norris also noted that Jefferson immediately surrendered to police at the nearby station. “The situation wasn’t fully created by Mr. Jefferson,” she said.

But Murphy stated that the officers “didn’t just jump out” at Jefferson and others announced that police were coming. Murphy said Jefferson surrendered at the time “because he had to. He got shot.”

“And let’s not forget about the defendant’s prior conviction, for what? [Aggravated] assault to a police officer for pointing guns at a police officer,” Murphy added. “So judge, we have clearly met our burden here.”

Before denying bail, Beach said “it’s not acceptable to shoot at anybody.” The judge said it was “concerning” that Jefferson was armed when he shouldn’t have been and pointing a gun at passing cars.

Jefferson is due back in court Jan. 18.