Man charged with punching Ald. Burnett outside ward office

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Bond was set at $100,000 for a South Loop man charged with punching Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) Thursday night as the alderman was walking into his Near West Side ward office.

Rafheal Taylor, 30, was charged with one felony count of aggravated battery to a government employee, Chicago Police announced Friday. He was also charged with one misdemeanor count of cannabis possession.

“I’m a little disturbed, because, you know, I don’t understand what I did to somebody for them to do that to me,” Burnett said. “I’m wondering what motivated him to do something like that.”

The 52-year-old alderman, who was first elected in 1995, was punched in the face about 7 p.m. outside the 27th Ward office at 4 N. Western Ave., authorities said.

He suffered non-life-threatening injuries and declined medical treatment, according to Chicago Police. Taylor was arrested shortly after the incident.

Burnett said the man later identified as Taylor first came to the ward office about 11:30 a.m. Thursday and told the alderman’s staff he was going to kill Burnett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“He left, but then he waited outside my office and has been walking around outside my office all day,” he said.

More than seven hours later, when Burnett was arriving for Ward Night, the man walked up to the alderman and punched him in the face, Burnett said.

“With my coat in one hand and my bag in the other hand, he just hit me in the face and pushed me down,” Burnett said. “He told me that I know what it’s for, then he walked away… I got up and said, ‘Hey man, what was that about?’”

Witnesses chased the suspect when he walked away, but stopped because no one could be sure he didn’t have a gun. Burnett said the man took his hat, glasses and coat off to disguise himself from police, but was eventually arrested. The alderman’s office captured surveillance video of the 11:30 a.m. incident, as well as the assault, Burnett said.

“I’m a boxer, so I can take a punch,” he said. “I’ve had busted lips and busted noses and black eyes just practicing in the ring, it’s not a big deal as far as the punch goes. The big deal for me is that somebody would be motivated enough to do that to me.”

Burnett said he continued with Ward Night after the incident.

“I gotta serve the people, thats what I’m here to do,” he said. “Now I’m gonna go home and put some ice on it.”

Taylor lives in the 1400 block of South Canal, which is in the Second Ward, police said.

He was ordered held on a $100,000 bond Saturday, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office. He is next scheduled to appear in court Thursday.