Officials insist “affordable bail” does not contribute to Chicago violence, but court cases tell a different tale

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans boldly claimed that “we haven’t had any horrible incidents occur” under his affordable bail initiative. 

Since then, CWBChicago has reported on dozens of seemingly horrible cases in which people have shot and killed others after being released on “affordable bail” for gun-related and violent crimes.

More recently, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has introduced a new talking point. Here’s how she phrased it recently on Twitter: “The idea that individuals re-offend while released on bond is often used to explain violence. But, during the first half of 2020, of the 1,872 people arrested for a felony gun charge, only 1% of them (26 ppl) had been previously arrested in 2020 for an approved felony gun charge.”

Her claim was repeated by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in a New York Times op-ed.

Foxx’s claim is skewed because she limits the amount of time that gun defendants are given to qualify as a re-offender. Her criteria allow someone arrested on January 1 six months to get caught with another gun, while someone arrested in June would have to be charged twice within the same month to qualify. So, she drives the re-offend statistic down by creating a tight window of opportunity for someone to get caught with another gun.

Let’s look at a real-life example and then check out a couple more affordable bail releases that the chief judge would apparently consider “not horrible.”

A gun on CTA — then another gun on CTA

Back in May, we told you about Dante Webb, a 22-year-old man that police arrested for gun possession at the Armitage Brown Line station. Prosecutors said Webb’s backpack contained a 22-caliber revolver with a defaced serial number, nine rounds of ammunition, $4,165 worth of narcotics, two U.S. passports, two Colombian passports, two different Social Security cards, an Illinois driver’s license, a Connecticut driver’s license, and cash.

Prosecutors charged him with felony armed violence, felony possession of a defaced firearm, three felony counts of possessing a controlled substance, and five misdemeanor theft charges. Judge David Navarro allowed him to go home by posting a $1,000 deposit bond.

Less than two months later, on July 5, police arrested Webb again at the Roosevelt Red Line station after they found him with another loaded gun, according to court records. A CTA passenger approached officers who were patrolling the station and reported seeing a gun in the waistband of a man who had a Divvy bike. The cops found Webb riding a Divvy bike toward the Red Line platform, they said. Webb jumped from the platform with the Divvy bike and rode it along the tracks to get away, according to police. They found him hiding in the tunnel near an access ladder.

Prosecutors charged Webb with felony unlawful use of a weapon and misdemeanor reckless conduct.

Even though Webb was allegedly caught with guns twice in less than two months, he doesn’t qualify for Foxx’s re-offense statistic because his second gun arrest occurred after July 2.

“Not horrible” murder while free on gun case

Matthew Berrones | CPD

On May 22, Matthew Berrones crashed his car, tossed a loaded handgun into a yard, and ran from police who tried to stop him for traffic violations on the West Side, according to prosecutors. Video footage allegedly shows the 21-year-old throwing an object into the yard. Police say the gun was stolen in Kane County. Berrones, a “documented and self-admitted Maniac Latin Disciple,” according to the CPD arrest report, was also convicted of unlawful gun possession as a juvenile.

Prosecutors charged him with felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and Judge Navarro allowed him to go home for $500 the next day.

Then, on August 8, Berrones was free on affordable bail when he allegedly drove the getaway car after a 20-year-old man was fatally shot on the Northwest Side.

Prosecutors said a gunman got out of Berrones’ car, shot Hugo Tecomateco in the head, and then got back into Berrones’ car, which fled from the scene. Through a series of investigative steps, police found the getaway car burned on the South Side later the same day. 

Berrones, who was twice convicted of possessing a firearm as a juvenile, is now charged with murder. He’s being held without bail.

His story qualifies as “not horrible” under the chief judge’s talking point. But the crime does not count toward Foxx’s gun re-offender tally because (1) the murder did not occur before July 2 and (2) he’s not facing gun charges in the murder.

Shot 2 cops while free on 3 affordable bails

Jeffon Williams, 19, made headlines late last month after he allegedly shot two Chicago cops during a traffic stop. Most of the news reports didn’t mention this: At the time of the shooting, Williams was free on three separate affordable bail bonds.

On March 29, he was released on a recognizance bond after prosecutors charged him with burglarizing Zeigler Ford in North Riverside, according to court records. In May, Chicago police arrested him on a DuPage County felony warrant. DuPage County asked for Williams to be held on $75,000 bail, but Cook County Judge John Lyke released him on a recognizance bond.

Damage to the Marino Dodge service bay following the burglary. | Provided

Less than two weeks later, Williams and others allegedly burglarized Marino Dodge on the Northwest Side. Two days after the break-in, Williams reportedly drove a Dodge Durango that had been stolen from Marino Dodge into a repair shop. Police were summoned, and they tried to stop Williams as he fled in a gray Volkswagen that was waiting for him. The car struck a police vehicle and escaped, according to CPD records. The same Volkswagen was seen at the Marino Dodge break-in, police said.

Cops caught up with Williams on June 24, and prosecutors charged him with the Marino Dodge burglary and with possessing the stolen Durango, according to court records. He got out of jail again by posting a $2,000 bond.

Williams was free on all of those affordable bails when he allegedly shot the two Chicago cops last month.

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