The Chicago Police Department’s carjacking task force is making arrests, but they’re having a hard time getting full-blown vehicular hijacking charges approved by prosecutors because many victims cannot identify the arrestees as the people who actually took their cars.
“I understand some of the frustration is felony versus misdemeanor, that all comes from witness identification,” Lt. Thomas Keene told residents at a Bucktown-Wicker Park community meeting this week. “What that person’s role in the crime was and who can identify them. Can the witness identify them, can the victim identify them?”
A Wicker Park hijacking from over the weekend is a good example.
Around 6:35 a.m. Sunday, a 28-year-old man had just stepped into his car when a black SUV pulled up and a gunman got out to take his 2008 Infiniti G37 on the 1200 block of North Honore. The hijacker robbed the driver of his valuables and then drove away with his car.
The victim described the carjacker as a clean-shaven Black male in his mid-20s with short hair who stands about 6-feet tall and weighs about 180 pounds.
About 12 hours later, the carjacking task force, Illinois State Police, and CPD’s helicopter unit tracked the car down on the 7200 block of South Wolcott and arrested two people who were allegedly inside: 31-year-old Deshawn Wilson and a 14-year-old girl.
Wilson — who has long hair and was not clean-shaven — is charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass to a vehicle. He was released from police custody Monday afternoon on his own recognizance, according to CPD records. The girl faces a similar charge in juvenile court, CPD Sgt. Rocco Alioto said.
In another example from the weekend, a man who was AWOL from a felony firearms case is charged with receiving-possessing a stolen motor vehicle after he was allegedly caught driving a Chevy Equinox in the Loop less than two hours after it was hijacked at gunpoint.
Shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday, two armed men forced a woman and her mother from the Equinox on the 4400 block of South Keeler in Archer Heights, according to a CPD report. The women described the hijackers only as two Hispanic men wearing black hoodies.
Around 4:15 p.m., CPD’s hijacking team spotted the stolen SUV in the Loop, and police tried to pull it over. According to prosecutors and police records, the driver, Antonio Gonzalez, popped a U-turn and drove onto the sidewalk before cops brought the car to a stop on the 1100 block of South Michigan.
Police detained Gonzalez, 18, and two others, including a juvenile.
Prosecutors did not charge Gonzalez with the hijacking, only with receiving-possessing a stolen motor vehicle, which is a lesser felony. No charges were found for the other two individuals.
On May 29, Gonzalez was allegedly the front seat passenger of a car that police pulled over for a traffic violation. When cops arrested the driver for not having a license, officers searched the vehicle and found a loaded handgun in a bag that Gonzalez admitted to owning, prosecutors said.
According to court records, he posted a $500 bond deposit to get out of jail and then failed to show up in court on June 9 and again on July 21. Despite his failures to appear, the judge never issued a warrant for his arrest. Instead, court records show, the clerk’s office simply mailed reminder postcards to Gonzalez.
On Sunday, Judge David Navarro set Gonzalez’s bail at $10,000 on the stolen car case and ordered him to go onto electronic monitoring if he posts a 10% deposit. But Gonzalez will not be able to post bond quite yet. Navarro also ordered him held without bail for violating the terms of his release in the gun case. The judge who’s handling that matter will review the no-bond hold on October 6.