Probation for man who fired 2 shots while fighting for control of Chicago cop’s gun

CHICAGO — A man has been sentenced to probation for firing two shots from a Chicago police officer’s handgun while the cop struggled for control of the weapon in Lincoln Park last year.

Thomas Tucker, 30, pleaded guilty to aggravated battery of a peace officer and endangering others by recklessly discharging a firearm, according to court records. Judge Anjana Hansen handed him two years of probation with orders to undergo a mental health evaluation and treatment. Court records show that he must also submit a DNA sample for indexing and meet other obligations.

The officer, working alone, and a separate two-person squad car responded to the 2100 block of North Cleveland around 8:50 p.m. on March 10, 2023, after two residents reported hearing unusual noises outside their home.

Footage from the solo cop’s body camera, secured by CWBChicago through a Freedom of Information request, showed the 50-year-old officer searching yards, gangways, and a construction site before he discovered the source of the noise: Tucker, who was hanging out between two homes.

“You gotta get outta there, come on,” the cop ordered.

Thomas Tucker and a frame from the officer’s bodycam (Chicago Police Department)

But Tucker took a “crouching position,” prosecutors later said, and walked toward the veteran officer at an “accelerated pace.” Officials said Tucker talked about taking the cop’s gun while raising a rock over his head.

Here’s the relevant portion of the officer’s camera footage. In a letter accompanying the video, CPD said it blurred portions of the footage and removed some audio to protect witnesses and victims:

About 70 seconds into the video, the officer asks a dispatcher to send backup.

“Unit coming in? I’m sorry. The radios are not good,” the dispatcher replies.

The officer, grappling with Tucker, doesn’t have a chance to repeat himself.

Not coincidentally, the city switched Near North (18th) District police radio traffic to a new encrypted system on the very day that the officer and dispatcher complained about the quality of the transmissions.

At the 1:25 mark, you’ll hear him yell an expletive and then two muffled gunshots as his weapon fires. The fight rages on as the dispatcher asks if any officers have an emergency. Finally, a little more than a minute after the gunshots, the cop manages to free a hand to activate his radio while using his other hand to keep his pistol from being used against him.

“1812 EMERGENCY ON CLEVELAND!” he screams.

About 90 seconds after the shots were fired, the dispatcher began relaying information from 911 callers who reported the gunfire. And, after a two-minute fight, the officer regains control of his gun, and Tucker runs away.

Witnesses directed backup officers to a nearby yard, where Tucker allegedly tried to move toward another officer’s gun before being restrained about 20 minutes later. The officer was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center with bite wounds and abrasions.

Prosecutors dropped the most serious charge Tucker faced, disarming a peace officer, and a handful of additional gun-related felonies in his plea deal.

The city’s encrypted radio system is designed to keep the general public from hearing police radio traffic. When CPD began transitioning to the secure network, then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot insisted that the project was necessary for officers’ safety.

Lightfoot refused to allow live monitoring of police transmissions by the public and credentialed media outlets. Instead, the city partnered with a third party, which streams encrypted radio traffic on a 30-minute delay.

While campaigning in December 2022, Brandon Johnson said he would make police radio traffic available to media outlets.

Encryption “makes public safety more difficult for everyone involved—media, [violence] interrupters and even police, whose work is complemented by these entities,” Johnson said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

He has not followed through on his promise.

An Illinois legislator introduced a bill in January requiring any local law enforcement agency that uses encrypted radio systems to make their transmissions available in real-time to newspapers and FCC-licensed broadcasters. The proposal is still working its way through the legislature.

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About CWBChicago 6553 Articles
CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com