A 47-year-old man was sentenced to life without parole on Wednesday for shooting and killing a senior Chicago police official in a midday clash in the city’s busy Loop neighborhood in 2018.
The man, Shomari Legghette of Chicago, was sentenced to serve a “natural life sentence” for the murder of Cmdr. Paul R. Bauer, the Cook County District Attorney’s Office announced.
“Justice was served today” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. But she added that “it may be of little comfort” to Commander Bauer’s wife and daughter left behind. The mayor called him a “selfless hero who served our beloved city with honor and humanity – and gave it everything, including his last moments”.
The last moments of Commander Bauer, 53, the most senior officer in the city’s Near North Police District, suddenly unfolded on the streets of downtown Chicago when he confronted Mr. Legghette on the 13th. February 2018.
Police officers on patrol this afternoon “observed an individual acting suspiciously” and approached to try to speak to him, then police commissioner Eddie Johnson said after the shooting. The man, later identified by law enforcement as Mr. Legghette, fled and officers described him by police radio.
Commander Bauer was nearby when he heard the description and spotted Mr. Legghette, Superintendent Johnson said. “An armed physical confrontation ensued,” he said, and Commander Bauer was shot several times. Within minutes, the loop became a chaotic landscape of police sirens, shouting people, and police swarming the streets of downtown.
Scott Kamin, defense attorney for Mr. Legghette, said Mr. Legghette was unaware that the man who confronted him – Commander Bauer – was a police officer when he shot him, reported the Chicago Tribune. “He sees someone in civilian clothes, someone chasing him, catching him,” Kamin said.
In 2018, 52 police officers across the country were fatally shot, according to Officer Down Memorial Page. It was the leading cause of death among officers last year, killing 48, followed by cancer linked to the 9/11 attacks, which killed 46, according to the site. So far this year, 39 police officers have been shot dead.
In a victim impact statement before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Erica L. Reddick sentenced Mr. Legghette, Commander Bauer’s daughter Grace, who was born in 2004, said she saw the world differently since 2018.
“I’ve always had an optimistic approach to life,” she says. “And I read books where the good guys always won.” The death of her father and a grandmother, both in 2018, was a game-changer, she said.
“My life is no longer optimistic,” Ms. Bauer said. “The good guys didn’t win. I no longer live in my perfect world and cannot return to it.
Mitch Smith contributed reporting.