Gun charges filed against man who got out of jail during massive COVID release

Another Cook County jail detainee who was freed during a mass release of prisoners as the COVID-19 outbreak began in March is now charged with committing a new felony. He is at least the fourth benefactor of the COVID release program to be charged with a new felony in recent days.

Zyan Damper, age 19, was initially arrested on August 21 last year after he and another man allegedly got out of a stolen car and committed a robbery near the Magnificent Mile, according to court records.

Zyan Damper | CPD

He posted bail on robbery and criminal trespass to vehicle charges, then got arrested again in October on charges of felony theft. He posted bail again and was arrested for another felony theft case in Chatham on December 22, according to CPD records.

As of March, Damper remained jailed in lieu of $175,000 bail, according to sheriff’s office records secured by CWBChicago. He would need to post $17,500 to get out on electronic monitoring.

But a judge reduced Damper’s bail to $10,000 and allowed him to go home by posting just $1,000 to help clear the jail of detainees this spring.

Damper returned to jail Saturday after a judge revoked his bail bonds because prosecutors say he illegally possessed a firearm.

At 10:30 a.m. Friday — exactly one year and four minutes after he was arrested in the Mag Mile robbery case — police pulled over a car for a traffic violation. Damper was in the back seat, and the car belongs to his mother, prosecutors said.

During a search of the vehicle, police allegedly found a gun under a cloth between the two front seats. Damper wasn’t charged with possessing that gun. He was charged with possessing the firearm that was lying under the first gun, according to prosecutors.

Damper admitted that the gun belonged to his mother and said he took it, an assistant state’s attorney said during bond court Saturday. His mother later came to the police station and identified the gun as hers, prosecutors said. She allegedly told police that she last saw her weapon at home earlier in the day.

Prosecutors charged Damper with felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

Judge John Lyke ordered Damper held without bail for violating the terms of the bond he posted to get out of jail. Lyke set bail in the new gun case at $2,000 and ordered Damper to go onto electronic monitoring if he can post bond.

The driver of the car, Demonte Jones, is charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon in connection with the first gun that police allegedly found in the vehicle. Jones is on probation for theft. Lyke ordered him held without bail for violating the terms of probation and set bail in the gun case at $3,000. Once the probation violation matter is resolved, Jones will be required to go onto electronic monitoring if he can post a $300 deposit bond.

Other COVID boomerangs

In the past 10 days, at least three other people who were freed from jail during the mass COVID release have been charged with committing new felonies:

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com