The Cook County state’s attorney’s office said it approved felony charges in 84% of cases brought to its prosecutors for review by Chicago police over the July Fourth weekend.
Of the 122 cases police took to the state’s attorney’s Felony Review Unit between July 2 and July 5, prosecutors approved felony charges in 102 of the cases — mostly gun-related, data provided to the Chicago Sun-Times shows.
Of the cases for which charges were not approved for during the holiday weekend, 16 were rejected and four were sent back to police for further investigation.
The Felony Review Unit rejects charges due to lack of evidence, Foxx spokeswoman Sarah Sinovic said.
“We have to meet our burden of proof in a court of law,” Sinovic explained. “If we don’t feel there is enough evidence [that someone committed a crime] we can’t pursue it.”
Police Supt. David Brown on Tuesday pointed at the county’s justice system for last weekend’s violence, alleging the courts have been too lenient on those charged with crimes.
“Chicago police officers are doing their job by arresting people and charging them with murder,” Brown said. “That’s doing our part. And what’s happening in the courts, it’s creating this unsafe environment for all of us.”
State’s Attorney Kim Foxx later responded that day in a Tweet saying, “Finger-pointing instead of talking honestly about the violence plaguing our city doesn’t help bring solutions that make our communities safer. It starts with apprehending those who pull the trigger; police must make an arrest before a case reaches the courthouse door.”
In spite of Brown’s comment, in most violent crime cases where felony charges are sought, police do not charge suspects. Chicago police investigate and present their evidence to Foxx’s Felony Review Unit, which then approves or rejects the charges, or asks the police investigate further.
Last month, in an interview with the Chicago Defender, Foxx pointed to the police department’s 20% clearance rate in shooting cases to stress how her office can’t charge someone who hasn’t been caught.
Chicago police Friday didn’t respond to a request for comment on the state’s attorney’s office’s July Fourth data.
Over the July Fourth weekend, the Felony Review Unit approved unlawful use of a weapon charges in 82 cases and rejected charges in eight others — a 91% approval rate.
Prosecutors also approved charges of aggravated battery with a firearm in two of three cases police brought to the state’s attorney’s office and approved a reckless discharge of a firearm charge in one case and rejected one in another.
Police also sought charges in five homicides during the holiday weekend — three of which were approved for murder and a fourth approved for an involuntary manslaughter charge, the state’s attorney’s office’s data showed. Prosecutors rejected charges in the fifth case.
More than 100 people were shot last weekend, marking it the most violent July Fourth weekend since 2017, although that year, the weekend tally included an additional day because the holiday fell on a Tuesday, according to data recorded by the Sun-Times.
Murders in Chicago last year increased by more than 50%, the Sun-Times reported, compared to a national increase of 30%.