9 years for carjacker who ran from cops, hid in 911 call center dumpster

CHICAGO — A man who carjacked a Lyft driver, crashed the vehicle, and then tried to hide from swarming Chicago police officers by hiding inside a dumpster at the city’s 911 call center has been sentenced to nine years in prison, according to court records.

Thomas Battle, who turns 20 on Friday, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated vehicular hijacking with a weapon and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon before Judge Charles Burns. The judge handed Battle the nine-year term plus a three-year concurrent sentence for the gun charge.

Prosecutors agreed to drop another hijacking case entirely in the plea deal. In that case, prosecutors said Battle and an accomplice ordered a Lyft to the 1800 block of South Karlov on December 28, 2022, and climbed into the 29-year-old driver’s car.

After arriving at their destination, the hijackers directed the driver into a parking lot. There, Battle pointed a gun to the man’s face from the back seat and ordered him out, prosecutors said earlier this year.

Battle ordered his accomplice to take the man’s valuables and told the driver not to move, or he would be “smoked,” officials said. They also made the driver give up his phone PIN and then drove away with his car.

Thomas Battle and the dispatch floor at the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications | Chicago Police Department; Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications

Chicago police found the heavily damaged vehicle abandoned about three hours later.

The nine-year sentence stems from another carjacking that occurred on January 1. Battle ordered another Lyft ride from the 1400 block of West Madison in the West Loop. The driver picked him up in a Cadillac Escalade and drove to the same block on South Karlov where the first carjacking occurred. Battle and a juvenile ordered the driver to pull into a parking lot, prosecutors said.

Battle allegedly threatened the driver and ordered him out of the car while the juvenile forced the man to give up his Apple ID. When the victim was “slow to produce” his Apple credentials, Battle put the gun barrel to the man’s neck and threatened to shoot him, officials said in February.

About two hours later, the Cadillac was involved in a fiery multi-vehicle crash in the 1200 block of West Van Buren. Everyone ran from the Cadillac, and police allegedly found Battle inside the 911 dispatch center’s dumpster with a gun.

Police found Battle’s phone inside the Cadillac. It allegedly contained a picture taken from the car’s back seat showing the Lyft driver driving the Cadillac shortly before he was hijacked.

Prosecutors said Battle was on juvenile parole for carjacking a pizza driver at gunpoint at the time of the December and January hijackings. He was also adjudicated delinquent for robbery in 2022 and possessing a stolen motor vehicle in 2021, officials said.

About Tim Hecke 221 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