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Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer shot 6 times, prosecutors allege as suspect held without bail

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 2/15/2018 Megan Crepeau, Elvia Malagon, Jeremy Gorner

In this Feb. 23, 2016 photo, then Chicago police Capt. Paul Bauer takes part in the arrest of a protester outside an Apple store on Magnificent Mile in Chicago. Promoted to commander, Bauer, 53, a 31-year veteran of the department, was fatally shot Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in downtown Chicago after he spotted a man matching the radio description of an armed suspect officers were chasing on foot, the city's police superintendent said. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

In this Feb. 23, 2016 photo, then Chicago police Capt. Paul Bauer takes part in the arrest of a protester outside an Apple store on Magnificent Mile in Chicago. Promoted to commander, Bauer, 53, a 31-year veteran of the department, was fatally shot Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in downtown Chicago after he spotted a man matching the radio description of an armed suspect officers were chasing on foot, the city's police superintendent said. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
© The Associated Press

CHICAGO — Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer was shot six times in the head, neck, torso, back and wrist, Cook County prosecutors alleged Thursday as Shomari Legghette, his hands and feet shackled, made his first appearance on murder and other charges in a courtroom packed with dozens of officers.

Prosecutors revealed that three civilian witnesses identified Legghette in a police lineup as the man who struggled with Bauer at the top of a stairwell outside the Thompson Center in the Loop. Surveillance video also captured the struggle at the top of the stairs, they said.

Legghette’s right hand and coat tested positive for the presence of gunshot residue, evidence he fired a gun, prosecutors said.

Judge Mary Marubio ordered that Legghette, a four-time felon, be ordered held without bail, saying he “poses a real and present threat to the physical safety of the community.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Guy Lisuzzo gave this account of what happened shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday outside the Thompson Center:

Bauer chased down and attempted to detain Legghette at the top of the stairwell. Legghette then stumbled down the stairs, and Bauer either fell or followed him down the stairs.

The struggle continued there before Legghette drew his 9 mm handgun and fired seven shots, fatally wounding Bauer, Lisuzzo said.

Bauer’s service weapon was still holstered, and his police radio and handcuffs were found next to his body, he said.

Within seconds, Legghette was arrested by responding officers, who found a loaded 9 mm handgun with an extended clip in his coat pocket, Lisuzzo said. Officers also recovered a “sharp object” on his person as well as heroin, marijuana and cocaine, he said. Legghette was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Legghette, 44, stood stoic Thursday as Marubio read the litany of charges against him: first-degree murder, armed violence, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, and possession of a controlled substance.

Superintendent Eddie Johnson listened from a second-row courtroom bench.

Legghette has a criminal history stretching back more than two decades, court records show. He picked up new charges while out on bond, on parole and serving probation, making him the kind of repeat offender whom Bauer recently urged authorities to keep off the street.

Authorities have described a hectic scene that ended with the fatal confrontation in a freezing outdoor stairwell, just outside the Thompson Center and a stone’s throw from City Hall.

The commotion began when officers working a drug mission on Lower Wacker Drive tried to approach Legghette for an interview, Area Central Cmdr. Brendan Deenihan told reporters Wednesday. As the officers got out of their car, Legghette took off, Deenihan said, running from Lower Wacker Drive to street level as an officer yelled: “I just want to talk to you.”

The officers wanted to talk to him about a shooting — possibly over a drug deal — Friday afternoon on Lower Wacker but did not consider him a suspect, said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. In that shooting, an occupant from a light-colored vehicle opened fire on a dark-colored sedan traveling in the opposite direction, police said.

Legghette ran to the corner of Lake and Clark streets, where Bauer’s car was parked, Deenihan said. Bauer, who had been listening in on his police radio, gave chase — a pursuit caught on video from a nearby taxicab, Deenihan said. “You can hear Cmdr. Bauer on his radio stating that the individual is running toward the State of Illinois Building (Thompson Center) and toward City Hall.”

Video then captured Bauer and Legghette struggling at the top of a stairwell near the Thompson Center. Legghette pulled at Bauer, and the two fell down the steps. Moments later, witnesses heard seven gunshots, Deenihan said.

Bauer, who was on duty and in full uniform, apparently never drew his weapon, Deenihan said.

Officers from the attorney general’s office and Illinois State Police were the first on the scene, he said, followed by a Chicago police officer in civilian clothes. They came to the stairwell with guns drawn, ordered Legghette to come out, then placed him under arrest, Deenihan said. No officers fired their weapons, he said.

Legghette, wearing body armor under a black coat with fur trim, had heroin, marijuana and crack cocaine on him in addition to the gun, according to police. More than a decade ago, he was arrested while allegedly in possession of body armor, court records show.

Legghette did not make any statements to police, Deenihan said.

Deenihan described a nearby taxi driver as “an excellent witness,” noting that the cab’s camera caught video of Bauer chasing Legghette as well as audio of the gunshots. The driver even pulled over, got out of his car and recorded more video on his cellphone, including images of police recovering the gun from Legghette and the moment the officer realized Legghette was wearing body armor.

Bauer had been in the area after attending “active shooter” training, which prepares officers for mass shootings.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office said he died of multiple gunshots.

The married father of a 13-year-old daughter is the first Chicago officer fatally shot since 2011.

Legghette’s first Cook County conviction came in 1997, when he pleaded guilty to drug possession and was sentenced to a year of probation. While serving that probation, he was charged with armed robbery and was ultimately found guilty and sentenced in 1999 to 16 years in prison.

While on parole in November 2007, Legghette was spotted by officers driving the wrong way down a one-way street near 66th Street and Stony Island Avenue, according to police. The officers then recovered a .44-caliber handgun, some heroin and a bulletproof vest, police said.

Legghette was arrested for a slew of offenses: unlawful use of a weapon and body armor by a felon, possession of a gun with a defaced serial number and a heroin charge. He pleaded guilty to the gun charge and was sentenced to three years in prison. While out on bond in that case, he was again arrested and charged with drug possession — a case that was ultimately dropped.

In 2011 Legghette was charged with resisting an officer and battery, records show. He was found guilty on one of the two battery counts and was sentenced to probation.

His most recent conviction was similar to his first: He pleaded guilty in 2015 to drug possession and was given two years in prison. He was discharged from parole in August 2016, according to an Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

After ascending the department ranks, Bauer in 2016 assumed leadership of the Near North District, just north of where he was shot. In that role, he publicly vented frustration about the difficulty of clearing repeat offenders from the street — a common refrain among Chicago police and political officials who confront a stubborn violent crime rate driven in part by recidivism.

“We’re not talking about the guy who stole a loaf of bread from the store to feed his family,” Bauer said in November, according to the Loop North News. “We’re talking about career robbers, burglars, drug dealers. These are all crimes against the community. They need to be off the street.”

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