Chicago police seized four weapons and a 50-round ammunition magazine after officers saw four men openly displaying guns amidst a large gathering outside a Near West Side housing complex early Saturday, authorities said.
But prosecutors only approved felony charges against one of the accused men. All of the others, charged with misdemeanor unlawful use of a weapon, were released on recognizance bonds.
The decision to only pursue misdemeanors against men accused of openly displaying guns during a late-night gathering on the Fourth of July weekend may reflect new priorities in the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
Last month, Foxx’s top data officer held a “training session” for Chicago journalists in which he said CPD was not “arresting the right people” for illegal gun possession in the city. A lot of people whose first arrests are for gun possession “will forever be marked as a felon [and end up with] different life choices as a result of this,” WBEZ quoted Matthew Saniie as telling journalists.
CWBChicago will have much more about the Cook County Sate’s Attorney’s Office journalism training session in the days ahead. But, for now, let’s go back to those four people who were arrested on the 1300 block of West Washburne around 12:50 a.m. Saturday.
Officers assigned to watch CPD surveillance cameras in the police department’s Near West (12th) District notified field units that they saw four men sitting in and standing near a minivan with its doors open near a “large gathering,” prosecutors said.
When patrol units arrived, the four men were inside the minivan, according to prosecutors.
The front seat passenger, Clarence Williams, had been seen in the front passenger seat displaying a gun, turning its red laser sight on and off, and moving the weapon around, prosecutors alleged Saturday. Officers ordered Williams, 22, out of the van and recovered a firearm from the floorboard near his seat, the prosecutors said.
Police saw the van’s driver, 23-year-old Johnquez Galloway, toss a partly-opened bookbag toward the back seat as they arrived. Officers opened it and found a loaded 22-caliber Ruger inside, prosecutors said. According to the allegations, Galloway has a Firearm Owner’s ID Card but not a concealed carry license.
Prosecutors said the two other men in the car, 24-year-old William Davis Jr. and 21-year-old Phillip Davis, also displayed firearms and were found with guns when police arrived.
Galloway is the only one who’s charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon. His defense attorney said he works three jobs and argued police had no reason to go into the backpack they allegedly saw him toss.
Judge Susana Ortiz set his bail at $3,000. He posted a $300 deposit to get out of jail.
The other men, all charged with misdemeanor unlawful use of a weapon, appeared before Judge Charles Beach. He released them on their own recognizance with curfews that require them to stay in the house when they aren’t working. None of them has criminal records, according to their defense attorney.