Dread Head Cowboy pleads guilty to animal cruelty for galloping horse on Dan Ryan

Adam Hollingsworth was sentenced to a year in prison, according to court records. He had gained fame in 2020 through his positive interactions with police and protesters after the murder of George Floyd by a police officer.

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Adam Hollingsworth, otherwise known as “The Dread Head Cowboy,” speaks after court in September 2020.

Adam Hollingsworth, better known as “The Dread Head Cowboy,” speaks after court in September 2020.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Adam Hollingsworth, best known as the Dread Head Cowboy, has pleaded guilty to a charge of animal cruelty in connection with a horseback ride he took on the Dan Ryan Expressway in 2020.

Hollingsworth was sentenced to a year in prison Friday by Cook County Judge Michael McHale, according to court records.

He will receive 232 days’ credit for his time spent on electronic monitoring as he fought the charge, the records show.

Hollingsworth has been representing himself after firing two defense attorneys.

During the case, he frequently sparred with McHale, who had warned Hollingsworth it would be difficult for him to represent himself, given his lack of knowledge of legal procedures.

Adam Hollingsworth, known as the “Dread Head Cowboy,” posted video of himself riding his horse Sept. 21, 2020 on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Adam Hollingsworth, known as the “Dread Head Cowboy,” posted video of himself riding his horse Sept. 21, 2020 on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

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Hollingsworth has been held at the Cook County Jail since a Nov. 30 hearing in which he repeatedly interrupted the judge and claimed his dog had eaten a thumb drive containing records that prosecutors had given him.

McHale accused Hollingsworth of making “a mockery” of the hearings, and sentenced him to 90 days for contempt.

Hollingsworth seemed determined to take the case before a jury as recently as a hearing on Thursday, during which he struggled to defend himself against allegations he had repeatedly violated the terms of his electronic monitoring agreement.

At the end of the hearing, McHale said Hollingsworth had flouted the rules by tampering with his GPS bracelet so he could go on hours-long excursions in the south and north suburbs during times when he had been allowed to leave his home to attend court and or to consult with a defense attorney.

McHale told Hollingsworth he would have to post $200,000 in cash to be released ahead of trial after he finished his sentence for contempt.

Hollingsworth then demanded to have his case tried in front of a different judge; that request had been set to be heard Friday.

Hollingsworth was arrested after disrupting traffic on Interstate 90/94 in September 2020 while galloping his horse, Nunu, amid rush hour traffic in an act of civil disobedience he said was intended to draw attention to gun violence against children.

Officials initially said the horse was so severely injured by the eight-mile asphalt ride that it might have to be euthanized, though Nunu was later reported to have significantly recovered.

As part of his plea agreement with the state’s attorney’s office, Hollingsworth will give up Nunu, but will be allowed to keep another horse, King, a spokeswoman for the office said.

Hollingsworth had gained fame earlier in the year through his positive interactions with police and protesters amid frequent protests against police brutality in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

Hollingsworth tried, unsuccessfully, to compel Mayor Lori Lightfoot as a witness on his behalf. Lightfoot had named Hollingsworth the city’s “Census Cowboy” in an effort to encourage residents to take part in the 2020 Census.

Adam Hollingsworth, otherwise known as “The Dread Head Cowboy,” rides his horse Prince in the Loop on June 16, 2020.

Adam Hollingsworth, known as “The Dread Head Cowboy,” rides his horse Prince in the Loop on June 16, 2020.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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