Former Orr basketball star claims self-defense in deadly shooting

Raekwon Drake’s attorney said Drake shot Martin Palafox after he was chased and had his dog snatched. But prosecutors said Palafox let the dog go before Drake and his girlfriend repeatedly beat him. Drake allegedly finished off the attack by shooting Palafox in the head.

SHARE Former Orr basketball star claims self-defense in deadly shooting
Martin Palafox was shot and killed on July 10, 2021, in the 1800 block of South Paulina Street. Alleged gunman, former Orr basketball star Raekwon Drake, and his girlfriend were also wounded in the incident.

Martin Palafox was shot and killed on July 10, 2021, in the 1800 block of South Paulina Street. Alleged gunman, former Orr basketball star Raekwon Drake, and his girlfriend were also wounded in the incident.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A former Orr Academy High School basketball star was defending himself when he shot and killed a man who chased him with others and ran away with his dog in Pilsen, the college athlete’s defense attorney said Monday.

There were several “armed robbers” who went after Raekwon Drake Saturday, so it is “ludicrous” that Cook County prosecutors think they have enough evidence to convict the 22-year-old with murder, Drake’s lawyer Frank Himel said.

But prosecutors had earlier pointed out that the victim, 26-year-old Martin Palafox, let the dog go before Drake and his girlfriend repeatedly beat Palafox as he was lying on the ground.

Drake finished off the attack by shooting Palafox in the head, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.

Judge Charles Beach said he understood the theft of a pet could be traumatic but said it was “curious and perhaps odd” that Drake left his dog outside to be snatched while he presumably went inside to retrieve his gun.

Drake, who was shot in the leg during the incident, remained hospitalized at Stroger Hospital and did not appear at his bond hearing Monday where Beach ordered him held without bail.

Drake — a Chicago Sun-Times all-state basketball player and star of a state championship team in high school — had joined Post University men’s basketball program after transferring from Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, the Waterbury, Connecticut school had tweeted.

He planned to play at Post this upcoming season, Orr basketball coach Lou Adams told the Sun-Times.

Drake was walking his dog near his apartment around 6 p.m. when a group of about three men started to chase him around the block, Murphy said.

Drake eventually ran into his apartment, leaving the dog outside. The group of men went on to take the pet and started to walk down the street in the 1800 block of South Paulina Street before Drake came back outside with a gun and fired approximately four shots in their direction, Murphy said.

No one was injured at that point.

Raekwon Drake (25) when he played at Orr looks to drive the lane against Mount Carmel.

Raekwon Drake (25) when he played at Orr looks to drive the lane against Mount Carmel.

Sun-Times file

Palafox, who had been holding the dog, dropped the animal as he attempted to run away. But Drake’s girlfriend allegedly began punching and kicking him while he was on the ground. Drake joined her, hitting and kicking Palafox before shooting him as Palafox remained on the ground with his hands in the air, Murphy said.

When Drake and his girlfriend tried to run away, one of the other men from Palafox’s group fired back, striking the couple, Murphy said.

Palafox, of Joliet, was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Drake’s girlfriend was hit in the right shoulder and also taken to Stroger Hospital, where she was listed in good condition, authorities said.

Prosecutors didn’t say whether Drake’s girlfriend would be facing charges.

The incident was captured on video surveillance cameras on the block, Murphy said.

A handgun was recovered from the window well of Drake’s apartment when a search warrant was executed, Murphy added.

Himel said his client has no criminal history and is “not someone that’s predisposed to this type of conduct.”

“Certainly, there’s a chance he can be found guilty of first-degree murde,r but more likely there’s a chance he could be found guilty of a lesser offense,” Himel said. “And more likely than that, there’s going to be 12 people [in a jurors box] that are going to say, ‘At gunpoint, you tried to steal my dog from me, and so you getting shot is justified.’ ”

A 2018 graduate of Orr, Drake was a three-time Sun-Times All-Area basketball selection. To put that in perspective, current Los Angeles Laker and Simeon graduate Talen Horton-Tucker made the team once and former Morgan Park and Illinois star Ayo Dosunmu made it twice.

Drake led the Spartans to Class 2A state basketball championships in 2017 and 2018, which began a streak of four consecutive state titles for Orr. The 2017 Spartans were featured in Rick Telander’s award-winning series ”A season under the gun.”

Adams said he’s known Drake since he was in eighth grade and still talks to him two or three times a week.

“I know the kind of heart he has. He takes care of his grandmother. I don’t know what happened with this situation, but he’s a good kid,” Adams said.

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