Plea deal in 2020 firefighter shooting pays dividends when gunman is allegedly caught with another firearm

Jermaine White | CPD

Criminal cases almost always end with defendants reaching plea deals with prosecutors. And prosecutors very often will drop the most serious charges as part of their deal. But the practice can have lingering effects if the defendant faces new criminal charges in the future.

A fine example of those lingering effects came through Chicago’s felony bond court session Tuesday.

Jermaine White, one of two men charged with shooting an on-duty firefighter in Albany Park last year, was in court to face a new gun charge before Judge John Lyke.

Last year, police said two men set a car on fire in the 3600 block of West Wilson Avenue so they could shoot rival gang members who came outside to investigate the blaze. The gunmen shot a fireman who got caught in the crossfire. He survived.

Prosecutors charged White and another man with aggravated battery of an on-duty fireman by discharging a firearm and other felonies. Earlier this year, prosecutors dropped that charge when White agreed to plead guilty to aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in exchange for a three-year sentence.

The state automatically cut the sentence in half for good behavior, and White received credit for time spent in jail after his arrest. When it was all said and done, White walked into the Stateville Correctional Center on June 29. And he walked out 36 days later.

White, who is still on parole, was arrested again on Monday. Police pulled him over for driving without headlights. When they asked him for his license, he leaned forward and threw a handgun from the floorboard in front of him to the back seat floorboard, prosecutors said. His three-year-old child was sitting in the back seat without restraints, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Darryl Auguste.

CPD body cameras recorded the alleged gun toss, Auguste said. Cops allegedly found crack cocaine in the car, too.

Auguste tried to convince Judge Lyke to hold White without bail by arguing that White was on parole for a gun case that originated with allegations that he shot an on-duty fireman.

White’s private defense attorney, Joshua Kutnick, wasn’t having it.

“This state’s attorney’s office decided that no conviction was warranted on the [aggravated battery of a] firefighter,” Kutnick told Lyke, arguing Auguste’s colleagues dismissed the charge that prosecutors were trying to use against him.

Kutnick said White, who was convicted of aggravated battery as a juvenile and spent six years in prison for a domestic battery attack that lacerated his girlfriend’s liver, “is not a violent person.”

White did participate in the shootout that injured the fireman last year — but he only fired in defense of a friend, Kutnick argued.

The state’s plea agreement in the firefighter case apparently kept the court’s pre-trial services officer from flagging White for possible violence in the future.

“That bodes well for him,” Lyke said.

The judge then denied the state’s request to hold White without bail on charges of Class X armed habitual criminal and possession of a controlled substance.

Instead, Lyke set bail at $25,000. He ordered White to go on electronic monitoring if he posts 10% of the bail amount. But White will not be able to get out of jail right away. He’s being held until state authorities decide if they will revoke his parole.

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