Before the gunman who nearly killed him was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday, Chicago Police officer Del Pearson thanked his colleagues and hospital personnel for saving his life.
“My family and I are greatly indebted to them,” Pearson said of the “brave and quick-thinking” officers who were with him and all the other men and women in blue who didn’t know him but rushed to his side on March 19, 2012.
Pearson spoke from the witness stand just feet away from Paris Sadler, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder Wednesday as Cook County prosecutors and assistant public defenders prepared for jury selection for his trial.
Sadler, 24, didn’t make a statement before Judge Thaddeus Wilson sentenced him on Thursday.
Del Pearson said he and his family are “happy” that they can finally move on to the next chapter of their lives.
Pearson nearly died after Sadler shot him twice after a foot chase in the 8500 block of South Kingston.
He still suffers nerve damage, Assistant State’s Attorney Daniel Groth said.
“[Pearson] wrote a blank check up to and including his life. This defendant almost cashed it for him,” Groth said.
For months, Sadler’s attorneys argued why his arrest for shooting Pearson should be thrown out, and why the .38-caliber handgun found in his South Side home should not be allowed at trial because the weapon was recovered in an illegal search.
Through the arduous pretrial stages, which exposed controversial tactics used by authorities, veteran prosecutor Joseph Lattanzio was fired for allegedly lying in an evidentiary hearing against Sadler.
Lattanzio testified that he made no changes to a statement he took from Talaina Cureton, Sadler’s mother, the day after the shooting. But defense attorneys presented a recording of her interview, which she had made with a tablet computer hidden in her purse.
Cureton said she never allowed police to search her home.
Despite the series of hearings and revelations surrounding Sadler’s arrest, Wilson eventually ruled that key evidence should be allowed at trial because Cureton could have been bending the truth like Lattanzio.
In a prepared statement, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said, “While we were fully prepared to take this case to trial, we are pleased with the plea of guilty and today’s sentence, which displays this defendant’s accountability for this outrageous crime and will serve to keep him incarcerated and off of the streets of Chicago for a significant period of time.
“It is by the grace of God, and with the strong courage and support of his fellow officers, that Officer Pearson was spared his life in yet another senseless shooting on the streets of Chicago. It has been an extremely long journey for Officer Pearson and his family, and we thank them for their patience and perseverance as this case has moved toward justice.”
Sadler’s family, who were at Thursday’s hearing, refused comment.