Motorist gets 12 years for killing his back seat passenger while trying to shoot another driver

CHICAGO — A West Side man has pleaded guilty to unintentionally killing his back seat passenger while trying to shoot another driver in December 2020, according to court records.

Quincy Cole, 29, was on bail for a pending arson case when he unintentionally shot 19-year-old Roderick James in the chest four times, officials said. He was found guilty in the arson case last April and received a six-year sentence. Chicago police records show detectives wanted to charge him with murder in the arson matter, but prosecutors rejected their request.

Prosecutors said Cole was driving a car with four additional passengers when another driver pulled up on their right side at a red light near the intersection of Bloomington and Laramie on December 6, 2020.

The other driver, a 68-year-old man, told police that he saw the passenger window of Cole’s car roll down to reveal a man pointing a gun at his head. He dove and heard bullets striking his car before Cole sped away, officials said.

Quincy Cole (Chicago Police Department)

Minutes later, one of Cole’s passengers called 911 to report shots fired near Belmont and Leclaire. Witnesses, including an off-duty firefighter, saw four men running from Cole’s car at that location. Police found James dead in the back seat of the abandoned car.

Officials said ballistics evidence suggested that Cole was trying to shoot out through his back passenger window when he unintentionally shot James instead.

Witnesses provided police with descriptions of the men who ran from the car, and officers arrested Cole along with two of the others nearby.

Surveillance video showed Cole tossing a gun onto a garage roof before police arrested him, officials said. Ballistics tests determined that 11 shell casings found inside Cole’s car were fired by that gun. Some of those bullets allegedly struck Cole’s chest and hand.

Prosecutors said the other two people arrested with Cole also ditched guns while running from the car. In addition to the casings from Cole’s gun that police found in the vehicle with James, investigators recovered 13 more casings in the roadway, officials said. Those casings came from Cole’s gun and two other weapons, officials said. Court records show Cole is the only person charged in the case.

Cole pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder on February 16, according to court records. Judge Burns gave him a 12-year sentence with 1,164 days of credit earned in jail.

The arson case stemmed from allegations that Cole and another man set fire to a car used by gunmen who killed a 32-year-old and injured three others on Independence Day 2019.

Cole was the 45th person charged with killing, trying to kill, or shooting someone in Chicago in 2020 while on felony bail.

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