CHICAGO (AP) — A man with a long criminal history that includes a conviction for armed robbery has been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a Chicago police commander, a police spokesman said Wednesday.
Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Shomari Legghette, 44, was also charged with being a felon possession of a firearm and possession of narcotics.
Police said Legghette was in downtown Chicago on Tuesday afternoon when tactical officers approached him because he was acting suspiciously. After a brief scuffle, he ran away.
Cmdr. Paul Bauer, a 31-year veteran of the police force, heard on his radio a description of the suspect, spotted a man matching that description and chased a man police later learned was carrying a semi-automatic weapon with an extended clip and wearing a bulletproof vest under a heavy jacket.
Police said the 53-year-old Bauer, who identified himself as a police officer, grabbed Legghette and was holding him until other officers could arrive when he and suspect fought, with both falling down a stairwell before, according to police, Legghette shot him multiple times. A police official, who was not authorized to speak before the charges were filed, said Bauer was shot in the head more than once.
Legghette has been arrested repeatedly and, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections, he has several felony convictions on his record dating back to the 1990s that have landed him in prison. Most of them are drug-related, but his record also includes crimes that show a willingness to use a gun.
According to the department of corrections, he was sentenced to prison in 1999 for armed robbery and after he was released, he was arrested again and sentenced to prison for possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number. Legghette was released from prison in 2008 before returning the next year after being convicted again for possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number.
Shortly after he was placed on parole, he returned to prison after it was revoked when he tested positive for drugs. He returned to prison again in 2015 after he was convicted for possession of a controlled substance.
Legghette, it turns out, is the kind of person that Bauer publicly worried about. Just a few months before his death, Bauer told a gathering of business professionals he was worried that what he called lenient treatment of hardened criminals by the legal system was putting the public in danger.
“Even when we catch somebody, there’s still a long way to go to get them off the street,” Bauer said at the Nov. 14 gathering, according to a report in the Loop North News. “We’re not talking about the guy that stole a loaf of bread from the store to feed his family. We’re talking about career robbers, burglars, drug dealers. These are all crimes against the community. They need to be off the street.”
It was initially reported that Bauer was off duty, but police Guglielmi said on Twitter late Tuesday that Bauer was on duty. He said in an email Wednesday that it was a “chaotic scene” and Bauer had been attending training at the Chicago Fire Department with other officials before the shooting.
“There was no communication from him on the radio informing dispatch that he was in pursuit of the offender or that he was even on scene, so they initially thought it was an off-duty officer until someone recognized him,” Guglielmi wrote.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Bauer’s death “a tragic reminder of the dangerous duty the men and women of our police department accept to ensure the safety of us all.”