Last Tuesday, 15 people were shot outside a gang-connected funeral in the city’s Gresham neighborhood. It is the worst mass shooting in recent Chicago history. People were outraged. Some blamed the police for not providing enough security for the event — although CPD Supt. David Brown later said two marked squad cars were outside the funeral home and a tactical team was patrolling the area looking for trouble.
Just four days later, police officers who were securing the area around another gang funeral arrested a man for allegedly passing a handgun among a group of men on the street.
Yesterday, that man appeared in bond court to face charges of unlawful use of a weapon. Despite the city’s highly publicized recent history, a Cook County judge released him on his own recognizance.
On Saturday afternoon, Chicago police conducted “special attention” patrols near a gang-related funeral in West Pullman for a man prosecutors called a “known driver of violence.”
Officers said they saw a group of people passing an object amongst themselves and they noticed a member of the group alert the others to the police presence. The crowd broke up as police approached, but officers managed to detain 23-year-old Bernard Heard.
Police, wearing body cameras, allegedly found a loaded handgun in his pants pocket. Prosecutors charged Heard with felony unlawful use of a weapon.
During Heard’s bond hearing Sunday, Judge Charles Beach said he was concerned about some things he read in the police report. Officers wrote that there were several guns involved and someone passed a gun to Heard because he did not have a criminal record.
Heard, Beach recalled, told officers that it was “his responsibility” to accept the gun and he “admitted he had a firearm in his pants.”
Then, Beach took a suddenly sympathetic tone.
“It pains me to see you in this spot,” the judge said.
Beach then released Heard on his own recognizance and told him to stay in the house between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Heard will not be required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
Elections have consequences (sometimes)
Beach is an affable jurist. He’s pleasant and quick to joke with attorneys he recognizes during court appearances. He also managed to become a Cook County judge despite losing his campaign for the bench two years ago.
When Beach ran for a vacant judicial seat in March 2018, he lost handily — by more than 17 percentage points.
Two months later, Beach and four other losing judicial candidates were appointed to fill empty seats as associate judges. They will all serve until 2022.
Following the appointments, a spokesperson for Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans told Injustice Watch that the committee that appoints associate judges, “does not necessarily view an election loss as a reason somebody should be disqualified from consideration.”