Man convicted of murder in killing of Chicago police officer

CHICAGO (AP) — A jury convicted a man Friday of first-degree murder in the 2018 shooting death of a Chicago police commander.

With its verdict, announced after just three hours of deliberation, the jury signaled that it had no trouble rejecting the argument made by Shomari Legghette’s attorney that Legghette did not know Cmdr. Paul Bauer was a police officer and shot him in self-defense.

Bauer, a popular 31-year veteran of the police department, was walking to City Hall on Feb. 13, 2018, when he heard a call on his radio that a man was running for officers. Prosecutors told jurors that Bauer, 53, gave chase and caught up to Legghette. During a brief struggle that caused the two men to topple down a stairwell at the state government building in the city’s downtown Loop, Legghette pulled out a gun and shot Bauer several times.

“He did so for no reason other than his own desperate attempts to avoid police, to avoid custody, to avoid what even began as an attempt to have a simple conversation,” Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Risa Lanier said in her statement to open the trial earlier this month.

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Legghette’s attorney contended that it was reasonable for Legghette to react the way he did when confronted by a “total stranger.” But after attorney Scott Kamin suggested to the jury that the 46-year-old Legghette might testify, the trial ended without him taking the witness stand.

Before retreating the the jury room, Lanier told jurors that the only explanation for what unfolded that afternoon was murder.

“The defendant may have run, he may have struggled, he may have even shot his way out, but today his flight from justice ends,” Lanier said during her closing argument. “Today what he cannot escape is the truth.”

Legghette faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison under Illinois law.

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