A Chicago man was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for looting a South Side clothing store and illegally possessing a firearm as a felon during historic civil unrest and looting that reverberated throughout city neighborhoods last year.
The sentencing of Adam Walton, 41, is one of the harshest handed down in federal court for those charged in connection to looting or rioting.
U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis admonished Walton for making “really stupid decisions” and said it was difficult to find an appropriate sentence for him because of his extensive criminal history, which involves two previous gun and drug convictions.
Walton was accused of leaving a looted Old Navy in Marshfield Plaza at 117th Street and Marshfield Avenue around 11:45 p.m. on May 31, 2020. Prosecutors said he had spent more than two minutes in the store and had collected a “large armful of clothing.”
Police said Walton then ran to a parked Honda CR-V that was in front of the store but was unable to open the driver’s door, at which point he dropped the stolen items and ran through the parking lot, according to court documents.
Police officers looked inside the Honda CR-V and saw “large quantities” of additional stolen goods inside the vehicle, officials said. Walton allegedly returned to the car and told officers that he didn’t care about the stolen objects — he just wanted to retrieve his car and leave.
Walton would later tell an officer there was a gun inside the car, prosecutors said.
In September 2017, Walton was convicted for illegally possessing a firearm and sentenced to eight years in prison but was released on parole in June 2019. He was still on parole when he was caught looting.
An emotional Walton stood before the court on Monday and apologized profusely to his family, the court and to police officers for his actions — often taking deep breaths to compose himself. He said that night he wanted to express his discontent over the killing of George Floyd but realized it somehow morphed into something that had nothing to do with fighting for social justice.
“I got caught up in the madness,” Walton said. “There are no excuses I can come up with.”
Ellis agreed with Walton that the death of George Floyd was “profoundly disturbing” and reflected a broken society and a failed criminal justice system.
“But what’s not OK is to then take that anger and turn it on your own community,” Ellis said.
Ellis said she was also troubled by some of the obstructive actions Walton engaged in while he was awaiting trial. She said he had attempted to convince his ex-girlfriend to tell investigators that the gun found in the Honda CR-V was hers — putting her at risk of going to prison.
The judge went on to say his actions were “fundamentally selfish” and was shocked at his willingness to see his ex “rot in jail.”