CHICAGO — When Illinois eliminated cash bail as part of the massive SAFE-T Act legislation in early 2021, proponents of the bill said it would ensure that dangerous people stay in jail. Many of them claimed domestic violence victims would be particularly well-served by getting rid of the cash bail system.
That may be. Or maybe not.
Take the case of Damarion Walker. Accused of firing a gun during a domestic altercation on November 16, a judge ordered him to remain in custody as a safety precaution. Just nine days later, though, another judge decided to let him go free.
He got arrested again within 48 hours. Chicago police officers say they caught him carrying a pistol down a South Side street.
Just before 6 p.m. on November 16, Chicago police officers responded to a ShotSpotter gunfire alert and simultaneous 911 calls in the 8600 block of South Constance.
According to a detention petition prosecutors filed against Walker, he had punched his domestic partner in the face and then fired a gun toward his cousin.
“[Defendant] is only 19 years old and this is his 3rd domestic battery arrest this year,” Judge Ankur Srivastava wrote in his detention order. Walker was alleged to have punched his baby’s mother, fought with his cousin, and fired a gun, with the latter claim corroborated by the ShotSpotter, Srivastava wrote in support of his detention decision.
Nine days later, on November 27, Judge Callie Baird had a different take. She reviewed Walker’s situation and released him from custody with instructions to avoid contacting the victims and to stay away from guns.
A gun arrest
Just two days after leaving the Cook County jail, Walker got arrested again.
Chicago police officers patrolling the 7100 block of South Bennett said they saw him acting suspiciously with a “heavy weighted object” in his jacket.
When the cops asked if he had a gun, Walker looked at the bulge in his clothing and ran, police said in his arrest report. He allegedly struggled with the cops, pushing one to the ground. The officers, one of whom suffered a sprained ankle, eventually took him into custody.
The next afternoon, prosecutors told Judge Maryam Ahmad that a loaded 9-millimeter ghost gun fell from his jacket as he struggled with police.
Ahmad wasn’t having it.
Walker “was told when released from custody 11/27/23 by his [domestic battery] judge that he cannot possess a [firearm],” Ahmad wrote in a detention order. “In his pending [domestic battery] case he is alleged to have fired a gun at his cousin.”
“[Defendant] was just released from custody 2 days ago,” Ahmad continued. “2 days later he is arrested on the street [with] a loaded gun.”
She ordered him back into custody on charges of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, aggravated battery of a peace officer, and misdemeanor resisting.
So far, no other judges have decided to let him out.
Court records show that he was charged with felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in March, but Judge Lindsay Huge found no probable cause and threw the case out on May 1.
Two weeks later, Walker was arrested for his first domestic battery case of the year. Prosecutors dropped the charge on May 30.