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Lightfoot tees off on criminal justice system after another violent weekend

After another bloody Chicago weekend that saw a 7-year-old gunned down in the drive-thru of a Homan Square McDonald’s, the mayor said police Supt. David Brown is doing the best he can under “impossible” circumstances.

Shell casings litter the scene at a McDonald’s parking lot Sunday afternoon where a 7-year-old girl was shot and killed and her father was seriously wounded as they waited in a drive-thru.
Shell casings litter a West Side parking lot Sunday afternoon after a 7-year-old girl was shot and killed and her father was seriously wounded as they waited in a McDonald’s drive-thru.
Anthony Vázquez/Sun-Times

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown is doing the best he can in an “impossible situation,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday, demanding federal gun-control laws and an end to electronic monitoring that allows “violent criminals” to “terrorize” Chicago.

Lightfoot was on the hot seat — again — after another violent weekend in Chicago that left five people dead, including 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams, gunned down in broad daylight while driving through a Homan Square McDonald’s to get a meal with her father.

At an unrelated news conference at Walter Payton College Prep, Lightfoot was asked if she’s satisfied with the job Brown is doing to stop the bloodbath.

“The short version is, yes I am. But ask me if I’m satisfied with the job that everyone who has a responsibility for guns flowing into our city is doing. And the answer is, no,” Lightfoot said.

The mayor then launched into her oft-repeated tirade about the need for Congress to ban assault weapons and order “common sense background checks” and “inter-jurisdictional cooperation” to block the pipeline of illegal guns flowing into Chicago.

“So, yes, I’m very satisfied with what our police superintendent and the police department are doing in an impossible environment where we’ve got to have help,” Lightfoot said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School earlier this month with Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot was at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School on Monday with Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson. It was the first day in-person learning had resumed at CPS high schools. Lightfoot and Jackson also took time to address the fatal shooting of a 7-year-old girl at a Homan Square McDonald’s on Sunday.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Lightfoot saved her harshest criticism for what she called the missing pieces in the Cook County criminal justice system.

“We’ve got to actually hold people accountable who are wreaking havoc in our streets. The fact that we have gone now 13 months and we don’t have criminal trials in Cook County” is shameful, the mayor said.

In fact, jury trials began March 22 at the Cook County courthouse at 26th and California and March 29 at the Bridgeview courthouse, court officials say. But there haven’t been many requests by defendants for jury trials this year, officials said.

“We’re doing trials in all divisions starting May 3,” said Mary Wisniewski, a spokeswoman for the courts. “We are already holding bench trials.”

Lightfoot also took aim at the widening practice in recent years of Cook County judges setting relatively low bails for people charged with felonies like gun crimes and having them await trial at home on electronic monitoring.

“We just charged somebody yesterday. Two brothers who murdered a person — 11 bullets into them, in front of witnesses,” Lightfoot said. “And at least one of them was out on another gun charge, on electronic monitoring. This isn’t working. We need to have trials and we need to put dangerous people behind bars so that the community is actually safe.”

Cook County’s 2017 bail reform required judges to set affordable bail for defendants they deemed could be released while awaiting trial without endangering the public. In 2019, Chief Cook County Judge Timothy Evans wrote an opinion piece in the Chicago Sun-Times in which he said, “99.8% of felony defendants released on bail don’t receive charges of new gun-related violent crime while their cases are pending.”

Evans’ office and Loyola University have released studies finding no significant rise in violence because of the reform, but critics say that’s hard to prove, since most Chicago shooters don’t get caught. This year, at least six people out on bail on gun charges in Cook County have been arrested on new charges for shootings — four fatal. At least five other felony defendants on bail also have been arrested for shootings, including a man on bail for a carjacking.

Lightfoot said she’s been “having that conversation” about reining in electronic monitoring for “over a year.”

“I don’t control electronic monitoring, `cause I’ll tell you if I did, that problem would be solved,” the mayor said.

“This is madness that we are allowing really violent people back out on the street with ankle bracelets or some other form of pre-trial release and they’re terrorizing our communities over and over again,” she said.

Evans’ office didn’t comment Monday on Lightfoot’s remarks about electronic monitoring. Sheriff Tom Dart’s office isn’t responsible for releasing defendants on electronic monitoring, but does monitor their whereabouts.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson also talked about Jaslyn Adams’ slaying Monday, saying she feels “like a broken record talking about how my heart aches” every time another Chicago Public Schools student is gunned down.

Jaslyn’s father, Jontae Adams, was seriously wounded. The shooting occurred at 4:20 p.m. Sunday as Adams was in his silver Infiniti in the drive-thru of the McDonald’s at 3200 W. Roosevelt Rd.

“The Jaslyn situation was particularly heartbreaking for me because, when I heard she was going to McDonald’s with her father, I just thought of what that felt like to me as a kid. That was, like, always a big deal. You get to go to McDonald’s and I get to do it with my dad,” Jackson said.

“I can only imagine the heartbreak. I’m sick of our kids not feeling safe in this city — even doing something normal and regular.”

Police said they believed that shooting was gang-related. Less than three hours later, two people were shot and wounded in a car at a Popeyes in Humboldt Park and investigators believe that shooting is connected to the McDonald’s incident.

In the Humboldt Park shooting, a 33-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman were in a blue Chevrolet Malibu, having just ordered food at the Popeyes drive-thru window at Chicago and Kedzie avenues when a gunman pulled up in a car at 7:12 p.m and opened fire. The man was shot in the left leg and the woman was struck in the abdomen. Both were taken to Stroger Hospital with the man in serious condition and the woman critically wounded.