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Former Indian Head Park police chief gets probation for shooting his son

Raymond Leuser

Raymond Leuser | Chicago Police

A former suburban police chief Tuesday was sentenced to two years of probation on gun charges for shooting his son during an alcohol-fueled brawl.

The 2017 shooting in the basement of 20-year Indian Head Park Police veteran Raymond Leuser III left Leuser’s 22-year-old son, Raymond Leuser IV, in critical condition, with gunshot wounds to his abdomen, shoulders and arm.

Leuser faced charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm, but at a hearing Tuesday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, his son said he didn’t want his father to spend any time in prison.

Limping slightly, the younger Leuser walked to the witness stand and sat silently as Assistant State’s Attorney Patricia Melin read from an affidavit the 24-year-old signed at the behest of his father’s lawyers.

“I don’t want to see my father go to prison for what he has done. He is a good person who had a lot on his plate,” Leuser wrote in his affidavit. “I want him to receive probation and some counseling, so we can resume our relationship.”

Raymond Leuser III was waiting outside his Clearing home with his hands up when police arrived the night of Dec. 11, 2017, and told officers his son was in the basement. Police reports state Leuser’s son was “covered in blood” and that he told officers his father shot him four times with a .45-caliber handgun. At the time, the elder Leuser was a sergeant in the Indian Head Park department.

In the affidavit, the younger Leuser stated he had been drinking and playing video games in his room in the basement for some 13 hours, before he went to the kitchen and encountered his father. The two argued over a bottle of the father’s vodka that his son had emptied, then refilled with water. The younger Leuser — who stands 6-feet-4 and weighs more than 300 pounds — said he hit his father “as hard as I could, in the face” before he was shot, but didn’t recall the fracas clearly.

“Everything that happened seemed fuzzy,” Melin said, reading from the affidavit. “I was in my own world. I tuned out my father.”

A month ago, prosecutors offered a deal allowing Raymond Leuser III to plead to a charge of reckless discharge of a firearm, rather than the counts of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm he was charged with two years ago.

Judge Arthur Hill Jr. had put the deal on hold, telling lawyers in the case he wanted to hear from Leuser’s son in person. Tuesday, Raymond Leuser III arrived in the courtroom with a friend and sat in the back corner of the courtroom gallery. His wife and son arrived an hour later, and both took seats in the front row, on the opposite side of the courtroom.

Hill on Tuesday agreed to the plea deal and probation-only sentence, calling the shooting a “unique tragedy.”

“This is a tragic situation. It is apparent this is a family in need of help,” Hill said. “Under normal circumstances, if you have a person who is shot four times, you’re talking about a penitentiary sentence.”

Hill seemed troubled by a letter he had received from the younger Leuser’s aunt, who described her nephew enduring multiple surgeries and post-traumatic stress from the shooting. Leuser’s son testified that he hadn’t asked the aunt to write the judge on his behalf. In a letter he wrote to the judge, the younger Leuser wrote that his injuries “left me crippled only for a period of time, and (are) recoverable with time.”

Neither Leuser spoke with reporters after the hearing. Raymond IV left the courtroom with his mother, and walked out as his father stood with his lawyer. The plea deal still leaves the elder Leuser with a felony conviction on his record, which will bar him from working as a police officer, his attorney said.