CHICAGO — Henry Graham, the 49-year-old accused of punching a man on the Magnificent Mile, causing him to fall to the pavement, strike his head, and eventually die, has been repeatedly arrested for randomly battering people in Chicago, Evanston, and on the CTA, according to Cook County court records.
But, despite the ongoing attacks and the high probability that Graham has unmanaged mental health issues, authorities released him back on the streets again and again and again.
In the past year alone, police have arrested Graham 11 times.
Last November, he was accused of shoving a 71-year-old man into a glass storefront in Evanston. He failed to appear in court. When he finally did show up in April, the case was dropped.
Early this year, he was accused of kicking a woman in the leg and arm as she walked near Daley Plaza. The case was dropped in July.
He “displayed irate behavior” and punched a man in the chest, face, arms, and legs on a CTA train near Dempster in March. He pleaded guilty in April and received 33 days time served.
One week later, he was arrested for assault in Evanston. After failing to appear, he received 15 days time served on June 20. A week after that, on June 27, he got arrested again for kicking a 30-year-old woman in the leg and face as she waited for a bus near the Magnificent Mile.
Just two days later, he was back on the Magnificent Mile. This time, prosecutors say, Graham’s erratic behavior killed a man.
Assistant State’s Attorney Anne McCord Rodgers laid out the allegations during a detention hearing before Judge Barbara Dawkins on Friday.
Russ Long, a 49-year-old River North resident and long-time employee at Northern Trust, was carrying a shopping bag as he passed the Cartier store, 630 North Michigan, around 3:52 p.m.
Witnesses saw Graham approach Long quickly from behind without saying a word. He twisted his torso back, then sprung it forward, plowing his fist into the back of Long’s head, Rodgers explained.
Long immediately fell forward, striking his head on the pavement. As Long began bleeding on the ground, Graham sat down on a nearby fire hydrant and stared at him for about five minutes, Rodgers continued.
He walked away upon hearing sirens in the distance.
Two witnesses followed him until they crossed paths with a Chicago police unit, Rodgers said. The officers detained Graham, and, as their body cameras were rolling, he admitted to hitting Long and knocking him unconscious, Rodgers said.
The police let him go.
For four days, Long’s friends tried in vain to get the Chicago Police Department to file a report about the attack.
Eventually, on July 2, a friend of Long’s called 911 from his hospital bedside and asked for an officer to come to Northwestern Memorial Hospital to take a report. Once again, the city’s call taker refused to send an officer because Long could not speak, but eventually relented and dispatched a car.
Only then did CPD begin the process of documenting and investigating what happened to Long, who died of his injuries ten days later.
Rodgers said an autopsy showed “severe injuries” on the left side of Long’s head. His frontal bone and the base of his skull were fractured.
“Significant force would have been required to inflict such injuries,” Rodgers said in a written proffer provided to CWBChicago by the state’s attorney’s office.
Chicago police arrested Graham at the Cook County jail on October 25. He again admitted to hitting Long, and he demonstrated on video how he did it, Rodgers said.
“He used a closed fist and wound his upper body in a manner like a person would throw a baseball and struck [Long] violently in the head area,” according to the proffer.
Between the time Chicago cops released Graham minutes after the attack and the filing of murder charges last week, he had been arrested six more times, according to court records:
- On July 9, for trespassing at a River North church. The case was dropped on August 22.
- On August 4, for throwing a bottle of gin through an Evanston store window. The case was dropped on September 5.
- On August 16, he was charged with pushing a 14-year-old girl in the chest, causing her to fall over a bench. Evanston police said he pulled the girl by her ankle, causing her to suffer scrapes to her arms and legs. He received a sentence of 18 days time served on September 5.
- He was charged with four felony counts of aggravated battery to police officers on September 22. Evanston police accused him of biting one officer on the hand, biting another officer on the thigh, kicking a third officer in the groin, and hitting a fourth officer.
- Finally, on October 3, he was arrested for allegedly striking a Lakeview man with a broomstick outside Wrigley Field. The incident was caught on camera.
His felony criminal background includes aggravated battery of a peace officer in 2017 and a federal charge of importing firearms in 2012, Rodgers said.
On Friday, Judge Dawkins ordered Graham to be jailed as a public safety threat while awaiting trial on the murder charge.
The Chicago Police Department has launched an internal investigation to determine why its officers failed to document a violent daytime attack on one of the city’s most famous corridors and why they let the suspected attacker go free.