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Police pursuit of Garfield Park murder suspects abruptly terminated

A 56-year-old man was shot and killed Saturday afternoon near the intersection of California and Flournoy in the Garfield Park neighborhood and the police pursuit of the suspected murderers was abruptly terminated as officers closed in.

A man was shot and killed while standing on a sidewalk Saturday afternoon in the Garfield Park neighborhood and the police pursuit of the homicide suspects, spotted on a Police Observation Device (POD) camera, was abruptly terminated as officers closed in on the suspect vehicle.

The incident began shortly before 4:50 pm on the 600 block of S. California Avenue in the Garfield Park neighborhood.

Police said a 56-year-old male victim was on the sidewalk when a stolen white Dodge Charger with a black hood pulled up, the driver waited inside while three unknown people got out of the vehicle, and all three unknown shooters fired shots. The victim was shot in the head and taken to Mt. Sinai where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Detectives found more than 20 shell casings in the area.

I was alerted to the aftermath of the shooting by @WindyCityWxMan on Twitter who followed the scanner traffic in real-time, then I went back and listened so you don’t have to:

#ChicagoScanner

another person has just been shot in #Chicago

615S California

M/40-50yo, shot in the head, DOA

Multiple shooters exited a white Charger

— WindyCity Weather and News (@WindyCityWxMan) July 16, 2022

The incident was captured on a POD (Police Observation Device) camera and the police had a clear description of the vehicle. Pictures of the vehicle had even been posted in a stolen vehicle Facebook group 3 days prior.

The city’s police helicopter was down due to the overcast weather but, approximately four minutes after the report of the shooting and description of the suspected vehicle went over the air, the vehicle was spotted by a Chicago Police unit near the intersection of Roosevelt and Sacramento on the north side of Douglass Park, a little less than three quarters of a mile from the original location of the shooting.

Another unit announced over the scanner that a vehicle matching that description had also been spotted in a shots fired incident around 1:00 pm earlier in the afternoon in which no one was injured and, at that earlier shots fired incident, there was a rifle and two pistols reported seen.

As a group of units continued to coordinate over the radio in following the suspected vehicle through the streets of the west side, the pursuit was abruptly terminated.

The whole incident, from start to finish, from the time when the shooting and vehicle suspect description first went over the radio to the termination of the pursuit, took no longer than an approximate 15 minutes. Officers were not engaged at extraordinary speeds. To my knowledge, the officers never even activated their lights or sirens as they followed the suspected vehicle.

As pointed out by @WindyCityWxMan on Twitter, the order to terminate was not taken well by the pursuing officers. A volley of replies broke through the scanner and included:

  • “Wanted for murder(!)…”
  • “It is wanted for shooting somebody, yes?”
  • “Wow.”
  • “Yikes.”
  • “This is a joke.”

The suspected vehicle was last seen by a CPD unit getting on the Stevenson expressway heading westbound near Cicero Avenue.

Their reaction was understandable. CPD units were right behind and all around the suspected vehicle mere minutes after a murder.

In addition to the long hours and with the little time off they do receive often canceled, Chicago Police rank-and-file officers have been working under new and major changes to pursuit policies and have faced heavy scrutiny for homicide clearance rates. CPD homicide clearance rates are notoriously difficult to determine due to how the department counts a cleared case, but it’s been well documented at better funded outlets than ours that homicides in the City of Chicago continue to far outpace those in New York City and Los Angeles, two American metropolises that are much larger, while the CPD clearance rate hovers “somewhere” between 25-50 percent depending on who you talk to – statistics which even may be exaggerated, according to the Sun-Times.

If scenarios such as Saturday afternoon’s happen often, it’s no wonder.

This happened the same day a local family south Cook County officials for their lack of adequate prosecution and detainment after the carjacking and murder of their 73-year-old father. And it happened the same day after the second CPD officer suicide in as many weeks, and the same day a third officer of the courts division attempted suicide.

I highlight Saturday’s incident not because I can’t appreciate or don’t understand that the concern for the general safety of all residents and the fear of an escalating incident by clearly violent offenders takes precedent over the immediate gratification of heroes saving the day. I do and it’s something leadership should be concerned about and consider in all instances. After all, pursuing a suspect, violent or otherwise, can put the lives of the general public and officers in danger.

Nor am I highlighting the incident because I do not understand the pressures of having to make the quick decision whether to continue or terminate a pursuit, particularly in this hostile political climate. I can and do commission. In addition to the threats to their lives, officers run the risk of losing their jobs, family savings and personal assets, and can even be sent to prison for their actions in pursuit of even the most violent of criminals.

But one is forced to wonder just how often the scenario that played out yesterday afternoon on the city’s west side occurs? Is that number increasing? Just how often are good officers and their dispatch and support teams working together to track down violent criminals quickly, only to be told to stand down? How many times was the potential danger real and how many times politically imagined? How many of those who went free committed more crimes in wake of their unknown luck?

One is forced to wonder just how often a similar situation will play out again in the future?

The safety of the innocent civilian is, of course, a noble concern and I have a genuine appreciation for that point of argument. But, as has been pointed out many times in the past, long before the most recent changes the Chicago Police Department had general orders surrounding pursuits and the general welfare of the public has always been paramount. Not only that but, despite what the political opportunists and the wannabe pundits that plague the papers and pulpits of this town, CPD has never operated in a vacuum. They live here. They’re your neighbors who signed up to serve and protect. The last thing they want to do is destroy the lives of their neighbors and, if you don’t believe me, you can look to the statistics between them and the gangs by compare.

Are they perfect? No, of course not, but I’ve never met a soul that is or ever will be. Should they be held to a higher standard because of their powers to enforce our laws and restrict the freedom of individuals? Yes, they should, and transparency should follow.

Still, I struggled to understand how forcing officers to terminate the pursuit of a confirmed stolen vehicle with four homicide suspects inside, spotted mere moments after committing not just their first shots fired incident but their second shots fired incident on the same day, the second being the one in which a 56-year-old man was in fact actually murdered, continues to keep this city’s residents safe now and into the future? I struggled to understand how long this city can continue to metaphorically handcuff officers from doing what it is we asked them to sign up to do and continue to expect a magical turn around of our internationally violent reputation? And I struggled to understand how anyone told to contain their courage and bravery can work without a realistic goal let alone an actual plan without crushing their morale?

Quite frankly, I struggled to understand how these unseen policymakers and those who continue to proselytize these policies before us can continue to look anyone in this city in the eye.

Maybe a politician or a city resident who continues to defend those politicians or one of the unseen but undoubtedly super important policy people behind these politicians will be able to answer those questions next time they’re back in town? Or maybe they’ll be able to answer those questions at the next Cook County lawsuit brought by the loved ones of a murdered innocent man? Or maybe next time the shots fly through the frunchroom windows in the middle of the night? Or maybe they’ll be able to explain it to the parent of the next child that is shot and killed by an errant bullet?

There is no one in custody. Area Four Detectives continue to investigate.

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