For the second time in a month, Cook County’s sheriff and chief judge are being sued by the survivors of a murder victim who was allegedly killed by people who were on electronic monitoring (EM) for pending felony cases.
The latest case was filed Wednesday on behalf of the estate of Keith Cooper, a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran who was killed during a carjacking in Chicago last summer.
Attorneys for Cooper’s estate based the claim on the same general grounds as a similar suit filed last month on behalf of another murder victim’s estate: that Cook County is putting potentially violent people on home confinement without adequately monitoring them.
One year ago, prosecutors charged Dushawn Williams and Frank Harris with killing Cooper during a hijacking attempt in a strip mall parking lot at 1236 East 53rd Street.
Williams, who was a juvenile at the time of the alleged murder, was supposed to be home on EM for a felony stolen motor vehicle case, according to the lawsuit and statements made in court by prosecutors last year.
Prosecutors said last year that Harris, now 19, pleaded guilty to another carjacking case just two months before the murder. He was supposed to be on EM as part of his probation sentence in that case, according to the lawsuit.
In a statement, the sheriff’s office denied that Williams and Cooper were ever on its electronic monitoring program. The chief judge’s office also operates an EM program that is separate from the sheriff’s.
Prosecutors said Harris stunned Cooper by punching him in the head from behind. Williams then allegedly pushed Cooper in the chest. The beloved grandfather, who would have turned 74 next week, collapsed a few moments later and died.
Judge John Lyke rattled off Williams’ juvenile criminal background during a bail hearing on the murder charge.
“The state tells me that this defendant, 17 years of age, but started a life of crime at a very early age five years ago. 2016. That’d put him at age of 12. Had a gun. Convicted of a gun. Age of 13 convicted of theft. Age of 14 convicted of aggravated fleeing and eluding…He has a pending stolen car case,” Lyke recalled. “He was placed on electronic home monitoring. And now he’s faced with felony murder.”
Lawyers for the estates of Cooper and Shanate Guy, the victim in the first lawsuit, claim Cook County, Dart, and Evans put over 3,500 people onto the EM program, but only staffed 110 people to monitor an average of 850 violations per day.
Dominiko Johnson, who allegedly killed Guy, was the 26th person accused of killing, shooting, or trying to kill or shoot someone in Chicago last year while on felony bail.
Williams, who is charged with killing Cooper, was the 27th.
Cooper’s daughter, Keinika Carlton is representing his estate in the lawsuit. She expressed her feelings in an open letter to Williams and Harris on Facebook after her father’s death last year:
On Wednesday, July 14th you turned my world upside down. My dad was just on his way to pick up his prescription at CVS when you spotted him. He just wanted to get his medicine, get back in his car and come pick me up.
We had shit to do that day.
But one of you, decided to grab his keys from his hand and demand his car. That’s fine. You can have his car. He had insurance. We could’ve gotten him a new car.
He asked you nicely to give him his keys back. The onlookers even asked you to give my dad his keys back. My dad didn’t try to fight you or give you a hard time. Why didn’t you just give the keys back?
Here’s where everything got fucked up.
You couldn’t get into the car. Yo dumbasses couldn’t figure out how to use the key fob. You couldn’t figure out how to just click the damn button. So out of frustration, you punched my dad in the head and pushed him in his chest.
His heart was very fragile. He’s had 2 heart surgeries in the past 10 years.
And after all that, you ran.
You fuckin ran.
Because you both are cowards.
All my daddy wanted to do was pick up his damn medication but you couldn’t let him do that!!!! And you were too stupid to figure out how to use a key fob!!!
I’m going to pray for you. God can get you better than I can.
The Cook County Record first reported the filings of both lawsuits.
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