Chicago’s upside-down justice system has churned out a real doozy. As usual, when CWBChicago asked the various authorities who were involved in the case to explain what happened, they pointed fingers at each other.
The case involves a 19-year-old man named Romell Brown. In May 2019, prosecutors charged him with felony reckless discharge of a firearm after he allegedly opened fire on a Far South Side street. He was released on an affordable bail to await trial.
Not even six months later, on November 2, Brown was arrested again after police on the Far South Side said they found him carrying a handgun on the street. At the time, he was still awaiting trial on the reckless discharge case. Prosecutors charged him with felony unlawful use of a weapon, and he was held without bail until COVID hit.
That’s when he was released by authorities who were anxious to reduce the jail population as the pandemic took hold in April, according to sheriff’s department records.
Guess what happened last week?
Around 4 p.m. on October 22, police responded to a call of a man with a gun on the Far South Side. Upon arrival, cops saw Brown with two pistols in hands, prosecutors said. They chased him and saw him try to throw one of the guns onto the roof of a house before he ran inside, according to the state.
Police recovered a 40-caliber handgun with an extended ammunition magazine. They also found another weapon that turned out to be a BB gun, prosecutors said.
Brown was arrested as he tried to climb out the side window of the house.
Now, you might think that a man who has a pending felony gun possession case and a pending charge for actually firing a gun on the street might be in serious trouble if prosecutors said he was caught with yet another gun while on bail.
But, no. That’s not what happened.
Prosecutors only charged Brown with a misdemeanor count of unlawful use of a weapon for last week’s incident. Why? Good question. And we tried to find out for you.
We asked the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
“We reviewed the recent gun arrest and concluded that the initial information presented by police was insufficient to support the filing of felony charges,” a spokesperson said. “CPD declined to further investigate the incident and instead direct filed a misdemeanor charge.”
Interesting. So we went to CPD. Could they provide some insight?
“According to CPD records, felony charges against Romell Brown were denied…by the State’s Attorney’s Office,” a police spokesperson told us. Of course, we already knew that. So we refined our question. What could CPD tell us about prosecutors’ claim that the department declined to investigate further?
“Please refer your questions to the [state’s attorney’s office], being that this was their statement, not CPD’s,” we were told.
Unsatisfied, we asked CPD directly: Did the police department decline to investigate the case further? The department did not respond.
We went back to the state’s attorney’s office. Could they elaborate on what aspect of the case prosecutors wanted CPD to investigate further?
Answer: “We are unable to comment on pending litigation. Thanks.”