Chicago man gets more than 9 years for pointing gun at officers as 18-month-old son stood nearby

“Even the mere fact of pointing a gun at someone could have easily instigated a shootout and resulted in the death of that toddler,” a prosecutor wrote.

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A photo of the gun authorities found in Joseph Hammond’s bag, which also contained sippy cups and diapers.

A photo of the gun authorities found in Joseph Hammond’s bag, which also contained sippy cups and diapers.

U.S. District Court records

A Chicago man who pointed a Glock at federal task force officers and pulled the trigger only to have the gun misfire — while his 18-month-old son was standing in front of him — has been sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in federal prison.

Prosecutors and court personnel characterized the conduct of 35-year-old Joseph Hammond as “atrocious in a multitude of ways” and “extraordinarily egregious.” He was originally arrested and charged early in June 2020 with the help of neighbors. They heard the child screaming and crying as Hammond fled with the boy and the gun, records show.

“Instead of being safely tucked in bed, asleep with a teddy bear, that little boy was being dragged around Englewood for an hour at 1:00 a.m., with a loaded gun hidden in his diaper bag,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Misty Wright wrote in a court memo earlier this month.

The prosecutor also said Hammond had an “uncommonly long criminal history.” He pleaded guilty in January to forcibly assaulting and resisting a task force officer, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

U.S. District Judge Manish Shah handed down the sentence Tuesday.

The incident began when Hammond became angry about a gang dispute at a party and wound up arguing on the phone with the boy’s mother, according to Wright. He allegedly said he was going to take two pills of ecstasy and go to her, which the woman took as a threat.

Wright said Hammond was outside the apartment of the mother of four of Hammond’s other children. Just before midnight, Hammond took out his Glock and fired three shots, Wright said. Though the shots were apparently fired into the air, their daughter thought he was trying to shoot her mother, and the girl woke up her uncle and asked him to call 911. 

A ShotSpotter alert also notified authorities. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as task force officers, made their way to the area. Then, shortly after midnight on June 3, 2020, task force officers spotted Hammond with his son at West 68th and South Sangamon streets, records show. 

When the officers pulled their car next to him and rolled down the window, Wright said Hammond raised his Glock, pointed it at them and said “move along.” The prosecutor said Hammond also pulled the trigger, but the gun misfired. Then, she said, he fled.

“Had the gun discharged, it is possible that both [Hammond] and his small child may have been shot and/or killed,” Wright said. “Even the mere fact of pointing a gun at someone could have easily instigated a shootout and resulted in the death of that toddler.”

Roughly 45 minutes later, the ATF spotted Hammond with the help of people in the neighborhood. As they approached, Wright said, Hammond reached into his bag. The prosecutor alleged that Hammond had been trying to pull out the gun, which had been tucked inside. She said the agents reached Hammond before he could do so. 

“It is this rush to threats and violence that is getting people killed in our communities,” Wright wrote.

The prosecutor said Hammond’s gun, which had an extended magazine, was loaded with 19 rounds of ammunition with one in the chamber ready to fire. In the bag with the gun, authorities also found sippy cups, diapers and clothing.

William Hardwicke, Hammond’s defense attorney, wrote in his own memo that Hammond felt fearful and uncertain at the time given the protests and rioting in reaction to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But he acknowledged that “the fear that Mr. Hammond felt does not — in any way whatsoever — justify his conduct.”

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