Getaway driver gets 5 years in Dakotah Earley shooting, robbery

Dakotah Earley takes a step with his new prosthesis in December 2022 (left) and a video frame showing the start of the robbery. | Joy Dobbs; Provided

CHICAGO — Five years. That’s the sentence for the driver of the getaway car Chicago police linked to the heinous shooting and robbery of Dakotah Earley in Lincoln Park.

Joy Dobbs, Dakotah’s mom, shared the news with us Sunday evening.

“He was tried as a juvenile, got five years, and then goes back to court when he turns 21,” Dobbs said.

Any so-called “closure” the sentence may have provided was offset by the behavior displayed in court by one of the driver’s relatives.

“The thing that bugged me most was the grandmother crying about how good her grandson was and how he wished that night never happened,” Dobbs recalled. “At some point, she knew and was harboring him. He has been in the juvenile system for eight years.”

The woman even had the nerve to ask the judge to return the phone police seized when they arrested her grandson.

Since turning 18, her grandson was arrested as an adult in January. Cops said he was driving a stolen car with three passengers, including two juveniles, and two guns. More on that in a minute.

Background

Chicagoans have been cheering for Earley, who nearly died and lost part of his leg in the wake of that awful morning on May 6, 2022.

As a homeowner’s surveillance camera rolled, a gunman confronted Earley and announced a robbery in the 1300 block of West Webster. There was a brief struggle before the gunman shot Earley repeatedly and demanded his phone PIN as he lay on the pavement.

Prosecutors say the gunman was 19-year-old Tyshon Brownlee. They’ve linked him to a string of violent holdups on the North Side, including one on the DePaul University campus moments before Earley. Brownlee’s cases are still pending.

Prosecutors charged the driver as a juvenile in May, one year after the shooting, with attempted murder, armed robbery with a firearm, possessing a stolen motor vehicle, and misdemeanor criminal trespass to a vehicle. While he was 18 when they charged him, he was only 17 when Dakotah was targeted, so his case went to juvenile court. Officials did not identify the driver publicly, and we are withholding his name.

The robbery crew was very well organized. It quickly transferred money electronically from victims’ phones to other accounts. A lawyer for one of the victims who conducted his own investigation said he found open-source information linking transfers from her accounts to Brownlee.

Making the whole situation even worse for many people: Chicago police officers spotted the stolen BMW that was used in Dakotah’s robbery about an hour before he was shot. They knew the car had been used in other violent holdups, but they chose not to pursue it.

Their decision was certainly made easier by the Chicago Police Department’s automobile chase policy, which essentially holds cops responsible for anything that goes wrong during a pursuit and also stipulates that no officer will ever be penalized for not chasing violent offenders.

That policy is now at the center of a lawsuit Earley filed against the city in February.

A mother’s thoughts

Dobbs reflected on last week’s juvenile court hearing, where the driver received his sentence. Much of her thoughts were reserved for the man’s grandmother, who insisted he was a “good boy.”

“Questions for me were, ‘Did you know [he was involved in the robbery] the day you saw your grandson on the video?’ Or, ‘Did you know before the detectives came to get him a year later?'”

Dakotah Earley and his mother, Joy Dobss. | Joy Dobbs

“Then she had the nerve to ask about her phone that police took the day he was arrested,” Dobbs continued. “Was she one of the people who they were transferring money to? All the cars and phones and cash [taken in robberies] and what happened to my son. She is worried about her phone.”

“Her tears come from the violence of my son. But if the shoe was on the other foot, she would say that the person was evil and should be behind bars.”

Arrested again

Shortly after the first of the year, and before prosecutors charged him in Earley’s case, the getaway driver was arrested as an adult.

Chicago police said he was driving a car stolen from the South Loop. He sped away and ran a stop sign when the cops turned on their blue lights. The officers terminated their efforts to pull the car over.

A few minutes later, they saw the car run another stop sign and turn down a dead-end road. They flipped on their blue lights and followed the car. Prosecutors said the driver plowed into the squad car and reversed into three more parked cars as he tried to get away.

Meanwhile, an 18-year-old in the front seat tossed a gun into the back seat, where two juveniles were seated, officials said.

The cops arrested them all.

Prosecutors charged the driver, the guy involved in Earley’s murder, with possessing a stolen motor vehicle and aggravated fleeing. He is preliminary scheduled to enter a plea deal later this month, according to court records.

Cops found a loaded 40-caliber handgun with a laser sight and an extended magazine attached in the back seat. They charged the front-seat passenger who allegedly tossed it there with unlawful use of a weapon.

Also in the back seat, propped against the driver’s side door, was a loaded AR-15 rifle and a second 40-caliber handgun, also with an extended magazine.

As it turns out, the front-seat passenger had another pending gun case. Sources said he has links to the robbery crews that stalked the North Side in the spring of 2022.

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About Tim Hecke 294 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com