Man threatened to kill Chicago cop in viral Facebook Live video, prosecutors say
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Bail was set at $10,000 Friday for a 20-year-old man charged after he was allegedly seen holding guns and threatening to kill a Chicago police officer last month in a viral Facebook Live video.
Police were monitoring the Facebook account of Tavon Baylock when he began streaming a live video on Jan. 23 that showed himself and two others in the car driving alongside a police SUV in the 9500 block of South Halsted Street, according to Cook County prosecutors.
The video was later posted to the Facebook account Chicago Code BLUE and has been viewed more than two million times.
In the video, Baylock can been seen holding what appear to be two semiautomatic handguns in his lap as the officer is seen driving in a marked SUV alongside Baylock’s car, prosecutors said.
In the backseat, another person appears to hold a handgun with a laser sight attached and a 50-round magazine, prosecutors said.
The man, identified by authorities as Baylock, laughs and makes several comments in the video, including “we’re gonna kill him,” and “he’s gonna get his ass hurt,” as the camera pans back and forth between the guns in his lap and the officer’s squad car. Later, as the officer drives away, the car follows and the man says, “Kill him. Catch him.”
Baylock faces a felony count of threatening a public official in connection with the incident, prosecutors said.
The officer doesn’t appear to notice he is being recorded, but prosecutors said the officer’s knowledge of the threat is not a requirement for the charge under state law. Prosecutors said the officer was able to identify himself after being shown the video and was working at the time of the incident.
Baylock’s attorney, Michael A. Saken, said Baylock was an “aspiring rapper” and disagreed that he had threatened the officer. Saken also noted that no weapons had been recovered from the incident.
“Besides the fact that there is language used that most would consider to be bad, there were no threats,” Saken told Judge David Navarro.
Prosecutors said Baylock has no adult criminal background, but noted he had been charged with unlawful use of a weapon twice in 2015. Both cases were heard in Cook County Juvenile Court.
Saken said Baylock turned himself in to police Thursday afternoon and asked Judge Navarro to release Baylock on a personal recognizance bond.
Warning: video contains explicit language
“There is the possibility of an argument for free speech,” Navarro said, before noting that the guns wouldn’t have to be real for Baylock to be charged with threatening the officer. And, Baylock had faced charges in the past for incidents that did involve “real guns,” Navarro said.
“These allegations are concerning to me,” Navarro said before setting bail at $10,000. Prosecutors had additionally asked for Baylock to be placed on electronic monitoring if he posted bond, but were denied by Navarro, who said, “I’m not putting him on E.M.”
Turning to Baylock, Navarro told him “Your bond is a promise … if violated, you will end up in custody.”
Baylock was released from the Cook County Jail after posting bond Friday night, according to Cook County sheriff’s office records.
Police spokesman Howard Ludwig said Monday that no one else was in custody in connection with the incident, which remained under investigation.
“CPD continues to gather information related to the case, including information related to the second individual wanted in connection with this incident,” Ludgwig said in a statement.
Shortly after the video was posted, police said they had identified both people seen holding weapons and had issued a notification to all officers regarding the threat.
“The FOP is once again saddened and shocked by the failure of the Cook County Courts not to take cases of violence or threatened violence against our police officers seriously,” Martin Preib, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, said in a statment Monday.