CHICAGO — In October 2021, as Chicago slugged through its deadliest year in a generation, a jaw-dropping video emerged of men engaged in a wild gunfight on the city’s West Side. It left one dead and two injured.
Perhaps nearly as shocking as the video was the decision by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office not to prosecute the five men Chicago police arrested shortly after the shooting. Prosecutors refused to press charges because they considered the gunmen to be engaged in “mutual combat,” the Sun-Times reported.
Months later, after public outrage subsided, prosecutors approved charges against one man—Thomas Dean.
On Wednesday, Dean pleaded guilty to three felony gun charges in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence, court records show. Judge Thomas Byrne sentenced him to three years for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and ten years each for a pair of machine gun possession charges. The sentences will be served concurrently.
‘Wild West’ shootout
The situation began routinely enough. Chicago police responded to a call of a person with a gun involving two Dodge Chargers near the intersection of Austin Blvd. and Hirsch St. around 10:44 a.m. on October 1, 2021.
Cops soon encountered a light blue Charger followed by a black Charger driving south on Mason Ave. Dean was sitting in the black Charger. The two Chargers stopped in front of a home on the 1200 block of North Mason as someone was hanging out of the home’s second-floor window, officials said. Two gunmen emerged from the passenger side of the blue Charger and began firing at the house.
What happened next was captured on a city surveillance camera.
The passenger door of the black Charger — where Dean was allegedly sitting — opened, and “movement was observed” in the black Charger as a gunfight unfolded between people in the home and the men in the street, prosecutor Lorna Amado-Chevlin said.
One of the shooters who stepped out of the blue Charger was fatally shot in the head, chest, shoulder, and leg. The Cook County medical examiner’s office identified him as Devlin Addison, 32, of Berwyn.
Both Chargers drove around Addison’s body and left the scene as Chicago police officers approached in a car and on foot with weapons drawn.
Investigators found 27 rounds and a gun equipped with an extended magazine and an automatic fire switch under Addison’s body, Amado-Chevlin said. A total of 70 shell casings were found in the area, and ShotSpotter gunfire detection technology recorded bursts of 25, eight, and then one round in the area, she said.
Officers took an occupant of the home to Stroger Hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to their leg and a shrapnel injury to their eye while the other occupants locked themselves inside, according to Amado-Chevlin. A SWAT team cleared the home two hours later and detained two people who were later released without being charged.
While that was happening, the black Charger pulled up to West Suburban Medical Center and dropped off Dean, who had a gunshot wound to his chest, Amado-Chevlin continued. She said the Charger quickly left the hospital and collided with a van on Austin Boulevard.
Video footage shows a man that Amado-Chevlin identified by name running from the crashed Charger, which had been reported stolen. Police found him hiding under a porch. Inside the stolen car, they found three guns and a backpack containing key fobs and a key fob programmer, she said.
The three guns inside the Charger were a Glock 22, a Glock 23, and a Mini Draco, also known as an AK47 pistol. They were all converted post-market to generate automatic gunfire, Amado-Chevlin said.
DNA tests found genetic material from four people on the Glocks, and Dean was one of those individuals, according to Amado-Chevlin. His DNA was not found on the Mini Draco, she said.
Yet, prosecutors declined to press charges against any of the people Chicago cops rounded up.
“Mutual combatants was cited as the reason for the rejection,” the Sun-Times reported three days after the shootout. “Mutual combat is a legal term used to define a fight or struggle that two parties willingly engage in.”
“We can’t live in a world where there’s no accountability,” then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot told the press after learning about the state’s attorney’s decision.
“And I believe that there are charges that can be brought at a minimum against the individuals who initiated the gunfire,” said Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor.
Four months later, Lightfoot, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, and then-CPD Supt. David Brown stood side-by-side to announce charges against Dean. Foxx denied that her office cited “mutual combatants” for refusing to charge Dean and others earlier.
Foxx also said officials had secured a search warrant against another target, and she expected additional charges to be filed in the days ahead. But court records show no other defendants charged in Dean’s case as of Friday morning. Officials have also not announced any charges against others.
Chicago police repeatedly tried to get prosecutors to sign off on murder charges against Dean. That never happened.