CHICAGO - The man charged with killing a Chicago police commander was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder.
Paul 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 from officers after the officers tried to question him on Lower Wacker Drive. Prosecutors told jurors that Bauer, 53, gave chase and caught up to Shomari Legghette, 46, who was a four-time convicted felon. 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 six 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.
Legghette was wearing body armor at the time of the shooting, and was allegedly carrying small amounts of heroin and cocaine.
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 Legghette might testify, the trial ended without him taking the witness stand.
Before retreating to 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.”
“We are so happy and relieved with the verdict, but are overwhelmed that he is no longer with us,” Bauer’s family said in a statement. “There is absolutely no doubt that justice for Paul was served today and we are thankful.”
In a statement, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said: “We welcome today’s guilty verdict and the justice it brings to the family of Commander Paul Bauer, the Chicago Police Department, and the citizens of Chicago. This senseless murder ended the life of an honorable man and highly regarded public servant. Commander Bauer’s dedication to serving and protecting the community was evident on February 13, 2018, as he performed his final duties as a Chicago Police Officer. This tragic case is a sober reminder of the dangers that police officers and first responders face in their daily work to keep us all safe.”
Legghette faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison under Illinois law.
Sun-Times Media Wire and Associated Press contributed to this report.