Nearly a year ago, Chicago police issued a press release to announce that Joshua Jones, 26, was being charged with shooting two women as rode in their car on the West Side. CBS reported it. WGN reported it. The Sun-Times reported it.
But when Jones showed up for a bail hearing the next day, prosecutors took the nearly unheard of step of dropping the charges instead of presenting allegations.
“Wow! Okay,” replied a stunned Judge John Lyke, who is not known for having a lack of words.
Prosecutors never refiled the shooting charges against Jones, who was on parole for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
But he did recently return to bond court on new accusations. Prosecutors said he violently beat a woman with a gun and a 50-round ammunition magazine.
When a prosecutor dropped charges against Jones in bond court on May 7, it was the final move in a low-level drama that had been playing out behind the scenes. Chicago police detectives believed they had more than enough evidence to charge Jones with shooting the women. But prosecutors refused to approve charges.
So, CPD Commander Richard Wiser, head of Area 4 detectives, overrode prosecutors and filed the charges against Jones directly, according to records reviewed by CWB Chicago. But the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, which is responsible for prosecuting criminal cases, dropped the charges at its first opportunity in bond court.
Police supervisors rarely override prosecutors, but the Jones case may demonstrate why CPD leaders are even less likely to use the tool: They risk public embarrassment when prosecutors simply dump the case anyway.
That fear of embarrassment was a critical factor when top CPD leaders overruled another detective commander’s efforts to override prosecutors in the shooting of Serenity Broughton and the murder of her 6-year-old sister, Aubrey, last year, a source said.
‘Cleared by arrest’
CPD’s press release last May said Jones was identified as the person who shot two women, ages 22 and 24, as they drove on the 4800 block of West Harrison on the afternoon of December 23, 2020. He was charged with Class X aggravated battery by discharging a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm into an occupied vehicle, the release said.
One woman was shot in the jaw and the other was shot in the thigh. They identified Jones in photo line-ups, a CPD arrest report said. The report notes that Wiser overrode the state’s attorney’s felony review office to approve charges.
Jones’ visit to bond court the next morning was brief.
“Your honor,” Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Deboni began, “At this time, based on insufficient evidence, this case will be nolle pros,” meaning the charges were dismissed.
“Wow! Okay,” Judge Lyke replied.
“No objection,” joked Peter Faraci, Jones’ private defense attorney.
“I’m certain,” Lyke countered.
In a statement after the hearing, a spokesperson for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office told CWB Chicago their office, “did not approve or reject charges related to this incident. After a review of the initial information brought to us by CPD, we informed police that additional evidence, including witness accounts, was needed before a final charging decision could be made. CPD decided to file the case without SAO approval.”
A source with knowledge of the investigation said prosecutors did not approve charges because a detective interviewed an eyewitness in the suburbs without an assistant state’s attorney present.
No charges have been refiled against Jones in the shooting cases. They are categorized as “cleared by arrest” in CPD records.
Last month, Joshua Jones was in bond court again on new allegations. His hearing lasted a bit longer than last time.
Prosecutors charged him with Class X armed habitual criminal, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, and misdemeanor domestic battery.
They said police responded to a ShotSpotter gunfire detection alert near the 3300 block of West Ogden and saw Jones running across the street and leaving in a white car.
Jones kicked in the front door of an apartment where he was living while on parole, prosecutors said. He then punched, kicked, and bit a 24-year-old woman who lives there, threatened to shoot her, then hit her in the head with a gun that had a 50-round drum magazine attached, they alleged.
The drum magazine broke off during the attack and police found it on the apartment floor.
Meanwhile, a police helicopter followed Jones in the white car. Police arrested him when it came to a stop. Prosecutors said they recovered two guns that he dumped in a garbage can, including a 9-millimeter handgun that “would appear” to fit the drum magazine police recovered.
Judge Maryam Ahmad ordered Jones held without bail. He continues to be on parole for his 2015 gun case, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.
In another charging decision that may raise eyebrows, prosecutors in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office have refused to file any charges against a convicted federal gun offender who shot another man in an exchange of gunfire on September 29.
Kevin Delaney, 31, reportedly admitted to shooting and wounding the other man in suburban Melrose Park. But prosecutors determined that he acted in self-defense.
However, Delaney was still a felon who was in possession of a firearm and that’s a felony. But prosecutors didn’t even charge him with that.
A spokesperson for the state’s attorney’s office did not respond to an emailed inquiry about the decision.