The Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office were rattled by news of the separate and unrelated resignations of high-level members of their respective leadership teams on Tuesday.
In the morning, Grand Rapids officials announced that CPD Area Five Detective Commander Eric Winstrom would become their city’s new police chief. Winstrom rattled cages in September when he used a rarely-exercised power to override Cook County prosecutors’ refusal to pursue murder charges against a man in the murder of 7-year-old Serenity Broughton. But Winstrom was himself overridden by CPD Supt. David Brown who wanted to avoid the optics of clashing with the state’s attorney’s office.
But the real surprise came later in the day when the state’s attorney’s chief of criminal prosecutions, Natosha Toller, abruptly announced that she is leaving the office after 16 years. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx selected Toller to lead the criminal prosecution branch just over a year ago.
“One of the last lines of defense … just quit,” said a member of the state’s attorney’s office, who called Toller “a real prosecutor. All the [prosecutors] in the building just lined up and clapped her out.”
“I’ve known Natosha since she started working for the office and I watched her with pride as she’s elevated throughout the office,” Foxx said in a statement tonight. “She is an example of tireless leadership and commitment to the people she served.”
Tolller emailed a copy of her resignation letter to staff members this afternoon. In the letter, which was provided to CWBChicago by a source, she thanked members of her team, her supervisors, and Foxx.
“I leave this office with my integrity and reputation intact,” Toller said in closing. “I started as an [assistant state’s attorney] in appeals, and I leave as Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau. I truly thank God for His many blessings and for allowing me this once in a lifetime profession.”
Two weeks ago, an assistant state’s attorney in Toller’s office and Judge William Raines were among the people caught engaging in an unflattering discussion about a private defense attorney when the court’s YouTube stream remained live after a hearing. But Toller was not directly involved in that incident.
Winstrom’s departure is seen as a significant loss for CPD, which continues to lose throngs of officers in an ongoing drain of institutional knowledge and experience.
He will start in Grand Rapids on March 7.
About a month after Winstrom was overruled in his effort to supersede the state’s attorney’s office in Broughton’s murder case, prosecutors brought charges against the man Winstrom wanted to charge earlier.
The Sun-Times reported that “new witness testimony” led to the approval of charges against Aireon Luster.