Rogers Park —Fourth person charged in car crash memorial incident

A fourth man is facing felony charges in connection with a clash between memorial service attendees and cops who were trying to arrest a man for allegedly possessing a handgun in the crowd.

Prosecutors on Sunday charged Thomas Sanders, 29, with felony aggravated battery of a police officer. A defense attorney said Sanders works as a security guard for Chicago Public Schools.

On September 7, Jatwaun Smith, 22, and Leroy Francis, 25, died after their car collided with a barrier and burst into flames near the S-curve at 1000 North Lake Shore Drive, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office and social media.

Both men were “middle to high-ranking” gang members based in the Rogers Park neighborhood, according to a police department source. Cops found a loaded handgun and a 30-round ammunition magazine at the crash site, according to a CPD report.

One man was previously charged with having a gun at the memorial service and two others were charged with battering cops who tried to arrest him.

During the incident, a police officer felt pain in his back and realized that he had been struck with an object, prosecutors said Sunday. Investigators reviewed CPD surveillance footage and determined that a man in the crowd threw a bottle that struck the officer.

On Saturday, police were conducting a traffic stop in Rogers Park when they saw Sanders nearby and recognized him as the man who threw the bottle, prosecutors said. He was taken into custody. 

Sanders admitted that he threw a champagne bottle, but he said he did it out of frustration because his efforts to calm other members of the crowd were not successful, according to prosecutors.

After his arrest, Sanders told officers he was family with police, that he knew he made a mistake, and he was glad the officer was not injured, according to statements made in court.

Judge Charles Beach released Sanders on his own recognizance and told him to stay home between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.

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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