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Man gets life for killing Chicago Police officer

Attorney James McKay, center, describes the criminal history of Lamar Cooper at the Cook County Courts Building Tuesday, March 27, 2012, in Chicago. Cooper, who in Sept., 2008, shot and killed Officer Nathaniel Taylor, was sentenced to life in prison. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

Eighteen years before he gunned down Ofc. Nathaniel Taylor Jr. on Sept. 28, 2008, Lamar Cooper fired shots at another on-duty Chicago police officer.

Ofc. Ronald Simmons described Tuesday how Cooper turned and shot at him three times in July 1990, and how he never had time to fire back at Cooper in the alley on Chicago’s South Side.

And then Cook County Judge Nicholas Ford sentenced Cooper, 40, to life in prison for killing Taylor, saying, “I hope you live a long, long life behind bars so you can remember what you did for the rest of your life.”

Assistant State’s Attorney James McKay recited the rest of Cooper’s criminal history in urging the maximum sentence, lamenting that the death sentence Cooper originally faced was no longer an option.

The state banned capital punishment last year. Still, Cooper faced a mandatory life sentence because a Cook County jury decided in January he knew – or should have known – Taylor was a police officer when he opened fire on the 39-year-old.

Jurors rejected Cooper’s claims that he couldn’t see Taylor’s badge and mistakenly thought he was on the cusp of being robbed as the narcotics officer approached his car early that morning in the 7900 block of South Clyde.

Cooper was found guilty of Taylor’s murder and three counts of possession of a controlled substance for the drugs recovered in his Southeast Side home.

Cooper, who was injured in the incident when Taylor’s partner returned fire and shot him nine times, did not testify in his own defense at the trial in January.

But he spoke to the judge Tuesday, first and foremost to blame his attorneys for doing a poor job of defending him.

He called both of his public defenders “ineffective and incompetent,” saying one slept through the trial.

He then offered this apology: “I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased officer … and to my own wife and kids.

“God bless them all.”

Taylor is survived by one daughter, who’s now 8-1/2, said her mother, Monlade Gogins.

Gogins told the judge how terrible it was to break the news of Taylor’s death to the little girl.

“I can still remember her face and the hurtful cries she let out. Her amazing hero was gone,” Gogins read. “Being a dad came easy for Nate because he was a wonderful person.

“I am a forgiving person and see good and God in everyone no matter what,” Gogins continued, turning to Cooper. “I have no choice to forgive and hope you have asked your Savior for forgiveness.”