Suspected shooter of Chicago cop faced a felony gun charge — until prosecutors dropped the case in February

The man who investigators believe shot a Chicago police officer during a traffic stop on Wednesday evening was charged in late 2020 with being a felon in possession of a firearm, but prosecutors dropped the case against him just four months ago, according to court records.

CWBChicago is not identifying the man by name because he is not charged with shooting the officer. He remained at large as of Thursday afternoon, according to a police source.

The injured officer, a 27-year-old woman, and her partner tried to pull a car over on the 6100 block of South Paulina around 5:43 p.m. Wednesday. But the vehicle slowed down and someone inside opened fire on the officers’ squad car, according to CPD.

Bullet holes pierce the windshield and door of the officers’ squad car. | @CPD1617Scanner via Twitter

An image of the squad car tweeted by 16th & 17th District Chicago Police Scanner shows a bullet hole in the driver’s side windshield and another in the driver’s door.

The bullet that hit the windshield reportedly fragmented, sending pieces into the officer’s head, shoulder, and neck. She was said to be making good progress on Thursday.

Investigators quickly issued a department-wide alert that identified the suspected gunman by name.

According to court records, he was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon in October 2020 after police said they found a loaded handgun under the driver’s side floor mat of a car he was driving. He was apparently not the registered owner of the car.

During the man’s bail hearing later the same day, an assistant state’s attorney said police stopped him for a traffic violation and smelled alcohol coming from his car. The gun made a “visible bulge” in the floor mat, the prosecutor alleged, adding that he was convicted of attempted robbery in 2012.

Court records show the man posted a $500 bail deposit to go home and he remained on electronic monitoring until the state dropped all charges in February.

Before dismissing the charges, prosecutors said they received new information, including documents that showed the car’s owner purchased the gun and possessed a valid Firearm Owner’s ID card and a concealed carry license.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com