CHICAGO — On August 9, 2020, a spark of misinformation about a man shot by Chicago police ignited a night of widespread looting along the Magnificent Mile, the Loop, and in neighborhood retail corridors across the city.
The misinformation that the Chicago Police Department’s then-superintendent, David Brown, blamed for the uprising were inaccurate social media claims that cops had shot a 15-year-old boy.
In a city still reeling from waves of rioting and looting that followed the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, the chatter spread quickly and widely. Soon, the rumors turned into direct calls for looting in the downtown area. By that night, a rampage was underway.
But Chicago cops had not shot a 15-year-old that afternoon. They shot a 20-year-old man named Latrell Allen after he fired shots at them.
The officers responded to calls of a man with a gun in Moran Park, and they saw Allen nearby, matching the suspect’s description. He ran, and the police chased him into an alley, where he fired at least eight shots at them, officials said.
COPA, the city’s police oversight agency, found that two officers who shot Allen that afternoon acted within the department’s guidelines. The cops were not injured.
A jury needed less than three hours to convict Allen on four counts of attempted murder and four counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm earlier this year. Today, Judge Thomas Byrne sentenced him to 60 years: 40 years for attempted murder plus 20 years for personally discharging a firearm during the crime, according to clerk of court records.
“I am pleased with this sentence, which holds the defendant accountable for willfully endangering the lives of police officers who were doing their jobs to protect our communities,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said Friday.
James Massey is the man officials accused of promoting the August 2020 riots. He received a 15-month federal prison sentence in May 2022 for inciting and participating in a riot. A federal judge also ordered him to pay $185,148 in restitution.
“Y’all ready?” Massey asked in one video that he allegedly posted to social media using the name Steve Nash. “I sent everybody the location to link up at bro. I trying to get something. I need to hit a couple stores.” In another video, Massey said he personally “ain’t missing out. I am ready to steal.”
Thousands of people looted and rioted on the Magnificent Mile, through the Loop, and in neighborhood retail corridors in the hours following Massey’s online pleas. Chicago police arrested over 100 people as looting and riots spread through the city’s downtown retail corridors that night. Two people, including a store security guard, were shot during the riot.
The other shooting victim that night was a 20-year-old man. He got shot while driving away from a man who tried to carjack him in the 200 block of South Wabash.
Another gunman fired shots at police in the Loop that night. Those officers returned fire, but the gunman escaped, Brown said the following day.
Thirteen police officers were injured, including one who was struck by a bottle, Brown said. Another cop’s nose was broken.
Massey landed in hot water again shortly after serving his federal sentence. On June 5 of this year, Chicago police pulled him over for not wearing a seat belt in the 1100 block of West 59th Street, Cook County prosecutors said.
The officers said they saw Massey reach toward the floorboard and stick his hands out the window as they approached. According to prosecutors, a loaded 9-millimeter handgun was found under the driver’s seat. He’s currently out on bail, fighting allegations of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
While Massey’s federal case was pending, he tried to buy a firearm at a gun store in Hammond, Indiana, prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum last year.
In addition to not having permission to leave the state, Massey also provided false information on a federal form as he tried to buy the Taurus Armas pistol, including claims that he lived in Indiana and was not under federal indictment, the memorandum said.
The gun store rejected Massey’s purchase because a background check found that he was under federal indictment, according to the memorandum. Federal prosecutors moved to revoke his federal pretrial release after the Indiana incident but did not charge him with any wrongdoing.
Here are some videos CWBChicago recorded during the Magnificent Mile looting on August 9 to August 10, 2020: