By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
A suspect has been charged in the February 13, 2018 fatal shooting of a Chicago Police Department commander at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. Shomari Legghette 44, of the 4700 block of Champlain Avenue, was charged with first-degree murder of a police officer, aggravated use of a weapon by a felon and drug charges by Cook County prosecutors February 14.
Legghette, a four-time convicted felon, is alleged to have shot 18th District Commander Paul Bauer multiple times in a stairway after he fled from other officers minutes earlier. If convicted, Legghette could face life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, as Illinois has no death penalty.
According to police and prosecutors, Bauer became involved in a physical confrontation with Legghette shortly after 2 p.m. while responding to a call from other officers for help as Legghette allegedly ran away from them. Police say Legghette was stopped by tactical officers from the 1st District as a suspicious person.
After bolting from officers, Legghette, allegedly wearing body armor, ran into the Thompson building where witnesses reported hearing a verbal confrontation between the two men. Shortly thereafter witnesses reported hearing a series of gunshots.
It is not known if Bauer exchanged gunfire with the suspect. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said Bauer died of multiple gunshot wounds and listed his death as a homicide. Witnesses reported seeing paramedics removing Bauer from the scene on a gurney, bleeding profusely from the head, as medics performed vigorous chest compressions.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was in California at the time of the incident, returned to Chicago later that night and went immediately to Bauer’s home to offer his condolences. He released the following statement on the tragedy: “This incident is a tragic reminder of the dangerous duty the men and women of our police department accept to ensure the safety of us all.”
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson spoke at a press conference the day after the shooting. He said people like Legghette are a danger to society and we must do more to keep individuals like him from being able to cause harm. “He should have never been on the street to hurt anyone,” an aggravated Johnson said. “It doesn’t matter that it was a police officer this time. Anyone could have been harmed by this person in the city of Chicago and that should concern all of us.”
Among Legghette’s arrests and convictions are multiple drug offenses and illegal possession of a gun.
Johnson said Legghette was arrested as he was attempting to flee from officers after he shot Bauer. At the time of his arrest, he was armed with a semiautomatic handgun with a 30-round capacity clip and had packages of heroin, cocaine and marijuana, according to police.
“Legghette was one of those guys who doesn’t play by society’s rules,” Johnson said.
Legghette’s criminal record is as follows:
- In January 2015, he pleaded guilty to drug possession charges, and was sentenced to two years in prison.
- In October 2011, he was convicted of a battery charge, and was sentenced to a year of probation and 30 days community service; he was cleared of a second battery charge and two counts of resisting an officer.
- In October 2009, he pleaded guilty to a gun charge from 2007, and was sentenced to three years in prison. A charge of being a felon in possession of body armor, and a drug charge were dropped in that case.
- In 1998, he was convicted of armed robbery, and sentenced to 16 years in prison. In that case, the man wore body armor while committing a robbery in Forest Park, sources said.
- In 1996, he was convicted of a drug charge, and sentenced to a year of probation.
- He also had a drug possession case dropped in 2009; four other criminal charges against him in two separate cases were dropped in 1994.
Bauer, 53, was a member of the Chicago Police Department for 31 years. He is survived by his wife and a daughter.
The Chicago Police Department announced the funeral arrangements for Commander Paul Bauer on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 as follows: On Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 a wake will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, 653 W. 37th Street. The wake is open to the public and includes Bauer being honored by the St. Jude Police League at 6 p.m. The funeral Mass for Commander Bauer is at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning also at Nativity of Our Lord. Attendance is restricted to law enforcement officers, family, friends and dignitaries according to the Chicago Police Department. Interment will be at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Alsip.