CHICAGO (AP) - Prosecutors dropped a gun charge against a Chicago man implicated in the 2014 beating of an off-duty police sergeant after the case unraveled amid questions about the actions of the sergeant and two other officers who were with him.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Cook County prosecutors released Joseph Baskins from jail, saying they couldn't prove their case stemming from an October 2014 confrontation in a parking garage. Records show that the three officers, who declined to speak with reporters, gave authorities varying accounts of what happened.
Chicago police initially portrayed the incident as a robbery, with Baskins as the culprit and Sgt. Patrick Gilmore, who suffered brain damage, as the victim. A spokeswoman for State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office wouldn't say why it took the office nearly three years to drop the charges.
The altercation between the officers and Baskin began in an elevator and spilled out onto a deck. Baskins, who is African-American, says the officers, all white, never identified themselves as police and made racial slurs. He also says he took Gilmore's gun to keep himself or someone else from getting shot.
"Everybody thought they were just a bunch of racist white guys," Baskins told the Sun-Times.
Records show that Gilmore said he confronted Baskin because he smelled marijuana. Gilmore said he approached Baskins' group, flashing his badge and his gun, and was immediately jumped.
The then-28-year-old Baskin, his fiance, family and friends had parked in the garage on their way to a wedding at City Hall. Gilmore and the other officers, Michael R. Kelly and Marc Jarocki, were heading to their car after meeting with city attorneys about a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing them of having conducted an illegal search.
At the time Baskins was charged, prosecutors said "words were exchanged," and a brawl ensued in which Baskins allegedly hit Gilmore repeatedly before taking off with Gilmore's gun. A police report accused Baskins of committing aggravated battery on Gilmore. However, prosecutors charged Baskins only with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon for taking Gilmore's gun.
Baskins, who admits to being a former street gang member, says he ended up losing his home and eventually his fiancé after the incident.
According to police interviews with the two city attorneys who had met with the three officers earlier that day to prepare their defense against misconduct allegations in the unrelated lawsuit, Gilmore and his partners came back to the law department after the fight smelling of alcohol.
Kelly, 42, and Jarocki, 36, have been stripped of their police powers pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation. Gilmore is on disability leave.