Monday, March 25, 2019

Judge released accused cop killer from home monitoring and nighttime curfew just 2 weeks before off-duty officer was slain

Police say Menelik Jackson's murderous rage began early Saturday at the Rock & Roll McDonald's. | CPD; Google
On March 8th, Menelik Jackson was standing in front of Cook County Judge Joseph Claps to address a violation of probation motion that prosecutors had filed against the 24-year-old South Sider.

After pleading guilty to attempted burglary last August, Jackson was ordered to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and to observe a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew for six months. But, prosecutors say Jackson violated those terms by allowing his monitoring system’s batteries to drain out last month.

Jackson had nothing to worry about. Judge Claps would be treating him with the same kid gloves that Jackson had grown accustomed to enjoying in the Cook County justice system. Rather than punish Jackson for violating the terms of probation—rather than extending the monitoring and curfew period or sending Jackson to jail or prison—Claps ordered the curfew and monitoring to be terminated immediately. There would be no punishment for Jackson’s failure to live up to his probation terms.

Two weeks later, off of electronic monitoring and on the streets well past his former curfew time, Jackson would violate his probation again by obtaining a handgun. And he’d use the gun to shoot and kill an off-duty Chicago cop in River North and gravely wound that officer’s friend, according to prosecutors.

Judge Claps’ forgiving decision was merely the latest in a long string of lenient decisions by judges and prosecutors who’ve meted out Cook County’s unique blend of “justice” to Jackson.

A newborn and a gun

On March 16, 2017, Jackson’s live-in girlfriend showed police officers bruises on her face and neck. Jackson had grabbed her by the throat and punched her in the head, she said. She took officers to a bedroom where the couple’s 16-day-old child was sleeping. Jackson had placed a loaded 9-millimeter handgun on the bed directly next to the child with the barrel pointing at the unattended newborn.

Prosecutors charged him with domestic battery and causing a child to be endangered. A protective order was issued, barring Jackson from contacting the victims and from possessing any firearms.

Less than four months later, on July 3rd, 2017, the bad situation turned worse.

Armed with a handgun that he was prohibited from having, Jackson broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home where he had been ordered not to go. He brandished the gun and threatened to kill both the woman and the couple’s now-four-month-old child, in blatant violation of the court’s no-contact order.

Afterward, the woman called police and told them where they could find Jackson: He had an appointment that morning for pre-hiring screening at the Chicago Police Academy. Officers arrested him there in possession of a loaded handgun.

Jackson was charged with one of the state’s most serious crimes, Class X felony home invasion while armed with a firearm. Other felony charges filed included residential burglary, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in a vehicle, and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in violation of a protective order.

His bail was set at $50,000.

Unable to raise a $5,000 deposit bond, Jackson sat in jail until Aug. 30, 2018, when he reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.

According to the deal, he would plead guilty to all charges in the first incident. In the second incident, prosecutors would throw out the home invasion and all weapons charges, then the state would reduce the remaining burglary count to “attempted burglary,” and Jackson would plead guilty in exchange for probation.

The state presented the deal in court, and Judge Ursula Walowski approved.

Walowski sentenced Jackson to 30 months of “intensive probation,” fined him $500, ordered him to submit a DNA sample, and issued a protective order that barred him from having a gun and from contacting his victims. Again. She ordered Jackson to perform 30 hours of community service and wrote that he “shall be on GPS monitor and curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. for [the] first six months.” Two of Jackson’s guns in the police department’s possession were ordered destroyed.

Despite being handed the great gift of serving no prison time and enjoying the leniency of a prosecutor who dropped a cakewalk armed home invasion case in favor of a single, reduced charge of “attempted” burglary, Jackson still wouldn’t play by the rules.

On Feb. 21st, prosecutors learned that Jackson had allowed his GPS monitor batteries to run dead. A violation of probation motion was filed.

Then, on March 8th, Jackson again enjoyed the kind hand of Cook County “justice” as Judge Claps decided not to penalize him for breaking probation promises. Jackson’s electronic monitor was removed. His curfew was terminated.

Two weeks later, Jackson and an as-yet-unnamed companion were at the Rock & Roll McDonald’s in River North at 2:30 a.m. on March 23rd. Somehow, Jackson and his friend got into a dispute with a busload of about 10 Hispanic partiers. Police were called. The situation was resolved.

But Jackson wasn’t done, prosecutors say.

Jovan Battle | CPD
He left the McDonald's and got another handgun that he was not allowed to have. Then, Jackson and the man who is still being sought by police began looking for the group of Hispanic partiers, according to allegations. Jackson and the other offender bumped into frequently-arrested local vagrant Jovan Battle and asked if he had seen the Hispanic group. Battle—who some police sources say was paid $5 by Jackson for his guidance—gestured with a bottle toward Officer John P. Rivera’s car where the off-duty cop, his girlfriend, another off-duty officer, and a male friend had settled in for their drive home.

Jackson walked up to the driver’s side of Rivera’s car and began firing without saying a word.

Rivera and his group had not been at the Rock & Roll McDonald’s. They had never encountered Jackson or his friend before. Instead, they had merely walked out of nearby Stout Barrel House and prepared to return home.

CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson today said Rivera was killed because he was “the first Hispanic man” Jackson saw after returning to River North….With that gun that he promised the court he wouldn’t have.
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After 3 carjackings in 12 hours, community alert issued for Lincoln Park

| Safety Serve
Chicago police have issued a community alert after three carjackings were reported in less than 12 hours in Lincoln Park on Sunday and Monday.

Police said the crew responsible for the latest string of carjackings is driving a dark gray SUV.

CWBChicago told you about two of the hijackings shortly after they happened:

A 48-year-old man was punched in the face and carjacked as he stood outside his vehicle in the 2100 block of North Lincoln Park West around 9:45 p.m. Sunday. Two offenders exited a stolen gray Dodge Journey bearing a license plate that begins with BB97 and repeatedly punched the victim in the face before they took the keys to his 2015 Jeep Cherokee and drove away with it, according to police on the scene.

Then, just before 1 a.m. on Monday, a 29-year-old man told police that four teenagers forced him to open his vehicle’s door and get out of his car in the 2300 block of North Cleveland.

One of the teens took the man’s gray Subaru Impreza with a license plate that beings with V930. The other three offenders fled the area in a dark colored SUV. The victim said thousands of dollars worth of surgical equipment was in the stolen car’s trunk.

The two cars were last seen heading east on Belden and then north on Lincoln Park West.

Also, the community alert said a third carjacking was reported in the 2200 block of North Lincoln on Sunday evening. No further details of that incident were released.

The offenders are three or four black males in their mid- to late teens.

Anyone with information about these incidents may contact Area Central detectives at 312-747-8380.
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Lincoln Park: Two carjackings reported blocks apart since Sunday evening

Approximate locations of carjackings reported on Sunday evening (1) and early today (2).
Police are investigating two carjackings reported just blocks apart in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on Sunday evening and early today. No one is in custody.

Most recently, a 29-year-old man told police that four black male teenagers forced him to open his vehicle’s door and get out of his car in the 2300 block of North Cleveland around 1 a.m.

One of the teens took the man’s gray Subaru Impreza with a license plate that beings with V930. The other three offenders fled the area in a dark colored SUV. The victim said thousands of dollars worth of surgical equipment was in the stolen car’s trunk.

The two cars were last seen heading east on Belden and then north on Lincoln Park West.

Earlier, a 48-year-old man was punched in the face and carjacked as he stood outside his vehicle in Lincoln Park on Sunday evening, police said.

The victim was standing near the rear of his vehicle in the 2100 block of North Lincoln Park West around 9:45 p.m. when three offenders pulled up in a stolen gray Dodge Journey bearing a license plate that begins with BB97, according to officers on the scene.

Two men exited the Journey and repeatedly punched the victim in the face before they took the keys to his 2015 Jeep Cherokee and drove away with it. The stolen car, which bears a license plate number beginning with Z252 and has Uber stickers in the windows, was last seen heading south on Lincoln Park West, according to the victim.

The offenders who got out of the car to confront the victim were both black males—one wearing a red hoodie and the other wearing a gray hoodie, the victim reported. A third man drove the stolen Dodge Journey.

Police said the victim was not seriously injured, and he declined ambulance services.
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Man battered, carjacked in Lincoln Park on Sunday evening

Approximate location of Sunday's carjacking. | Multiplotrr
UPDATE: Another carjacking was reported in the same part of Lincoln Park early on Monday. Our updated report is HERE.
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A 48-year-old man was punched in the face and carjacked as he stood outside his vehicle in Lincoln Park on Sunday evening, police said.

The victim was standing near the rear of his vehicle in the 2100 block of North Lincoln Park West around 9:45 p.m. when three offenders pulled up in a stolen gray Dodge Journey bearing a license plate that begins with BB97, according to officers on the scene.

Two men exited the Journey and repeatedly punched the victim in the face before they took the keys to his 2015 Jeep Cherokee and drove away with it. The stolen car, which bears a license plate number beginning with Z252 and has Uber stickers in the windows, was last seen heading south on Lincoln Park West, according to the victim.

The offenders who got out of the car to confront the victim were both black males—one wearing a red hoodie and the other wearing a gray hoodie, the victim reported. A third man drove the stolen Dodge Journey.

Police said the victim was not seriously injured, and he declined ambulance services.
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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Former CPD candidate questioned in slaying of off-duty officer, wounding of second man in River North

Officer John P. Rivera | Neko Castillo
Multiple sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, have stated that a former candidate for the Chicago Police Department is being questioned in connection with Saturday morning’s slaying of off-duty Officer John P. Rivera, 23,  and the critical wounding of another 23-year-old man in River North.

CWBChicago is withholding the name of the man being questioned because he has not been charged with any wrongdoing in connection with Saturday's events.

Official records show the man was arrested at the Chicago Police Academy in July 2017 to face charges of home invasion with a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon in a vehicle, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, resisting or obstructing police, and violating an order of protection.

The outcome of the court case was not immediately available, however, Illinois Department of Corrections records do not show anyone with the man’s name as a current inmate or parolee.

Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted tonight, “CPD will not confirm, deny or comment on any information while interrogations are underway & people of interest need to be questioned. Unofficial sources commenting on this case stand to undermine a criminal investigation into the murder of an officer and we won't stand for that.”

Rivera and a friend were shot as they sat in Rivera’s car with a second off-duty CPD officer and a female friend after leaving Stout Barrel House, 632 North Clark Street, around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Police have said that two men approached the driver’s side of Rivera’s vehicle and opened fire without making any demands or statements. The other two passengers in Rivera’s car were not injured.

The entire incident was captured on at least one city POD camera. The offenders were reportedly directed to Rivera's car by a vagrant who was walking in the area.

About an hour before the shooting, police were called to a nearby McDonald's to handle a report of 10 Hispanic men on a party bus who were fighting with two black men.

According to an unofficial summary of events shared with CWBChicago on Saturday, investigators were working to determine if the two black men from the McDonald's incident may have remained in the area to search for people they believed were involved in their attack.

On Saturday, Chicago police knew of no motive for the shooting and openly speculated that the case was one of misidentification stemming from an earlier incident at a nearby fast food restaurant.

But the new revelation that a person being questioned in the case may have been a candidate for CPD at around the same time that Rivera attended the academy raises new questions about what happened or the extent of this tragedy's coincidences.

Previous Coverage

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Lakeview: Man hospitalized after being beaten, robbed by 5 offenders on Red Line


A 42-year-old man is listed in fair condition after being beaten and robbed at knifepoint by five offenders on a CTA train at the Belmont Red Line station overnight, police said. No one is in custody.

Police said the victim and his attackers were on a northbound train around 2:30 a.m. when the group physically attacked the man and took his phone, money, and leather jacket. The victim got off the train at the Belmont station where police and an ambulance were called to assist.

The suspects are five black men between 18- and 25-years-old. One of the men wore a puffy black jacket, and another wore a red hoodie, the victim said.

A police spokesman this morning said the victim is hospitalized at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Another Lakeview Robbery

Police are investigating a Saturday afternoon robbery in the Lakeview neighborhood. A woman told police that she was robbed in the 800 block of West Diversey around 3:30 p.m. by a group of people who were armed with a handgun.

After the robbery, the three got into a light blue four-door vehicle that fled northbound on Mildred Avenue with a fourth person.

The victim said the robbers were two black females and a black male.
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"Flyer boy" phone thieves are hitting downtown diners hard, cops say


Chicago police are once again warning people about “flyer boys” who steal phones from unsuspecting victims in restaurants and other locations downtown while posing as charity fundraisers.

The thief has hit at least seven times since March 11th, according to a new alert from Area Central investigators. His technique is simple: He approaches victims as they sit in restaurants or in a library with their phone on the table during afternoon hours. Opening the conversation with a request for a charitable donation, the man then places flyers or a newspaper on top of the victim’s phone while going through his charity pitch. When he’s done, he lifts up the victim’s phone along with the papers and leaves the building.

Police have identified seven recent cases linked to the suspect: on March 11th in the 100 block of South Wabash, the 300 block of South Wabash, and the 100 block of South Michigan; March 13th in the 100 block of South Michigan; March 21st in the 100 block of West Lake; and March 22nd in the 100 block of North Wabash and the 100 block of North State.

The suspect is described by police as a black male with a dark complexion who stands 5’10” to 6-feet tall.

Popular Scam

Another group of flyer boys pulled the same scam at an Old Town bar recently. A CWBChicago reader reported that a crew of “flyer boys” entered the bar on Wells Street on Saturday, March 9th, and began soliciting for their bucket boy “charity.” At least three phones were stolen from bar patrons within minutes, the man said. “No one knew until the manager made an announcement over the speakers.”

Ritzy Rip-Off

A CWBChicago reader’s recent experience at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel bar shows how easy it is to lose valuables while out on the town in the city.

The woman said she and friends were at the bar on a recent Saturday night when a ring of thieves stole her purse “within 15 minutes of sitting down.”

Surveillance video showed a male suspect working with two female accomplices who slipped the woman’s purse off of her seat, concealed it under a coat, and then left the bar, according to an account the woman was reportedly given by hotel security.

Good rule of thumb: If you have something valuable in public, sit on it.
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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Murder of off-duty officer captured entirely on POD cameras; Possibility of "mistaken identity" explored

Investigators who are working a double-shooting in River North early Saturday that left an off-duty Chicago police officer dead and his friend critically wounded are considering the possibility that the men were misidentified by the killer, according to a CPD source.

While stressing that the investigation is on-going, the source said that police are looking at possible connections to an incident one hour before the shooting at the former Rock’n’Roll McDonald’s.

Just before 2:30 a.m., police responded to the restaurant at 600 North Clark Street after witnesses reported “10 Hispanic gang members on a party bus” beating up two black men.

Almost exactly an hour later, 23-year-old off-duty Chicago Police Officer John P. Rivera, his girlfriend, another off-duty officer, and a friend of Rivera’s left Stout Barrel House bar at 632 North Clark Street for Rivera’s car, which was parked in the 700 block of North Clark.

Moments after the four were seated in Rivera’s car, two men approached the vehicle, and one opened fire on the driver’s side of the vehicle, killing Rivera and critically wounding his friend in the rear passenger seat, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

The entire incident was captured on at least one city POD camera. According to an unofficial summary of events shared with CWBChicago, the primary offenders may have remained in the area after the McDonald's incident to search for people they believed were involved in the attack. The offenders were reportedly directed to Rivera's car by a vagrant who was walking in the area.

Police took a person of interest into custody near the shooting scene about an hour after the incident. CPD Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio said on Saturday that the individual in custody is not the shooter. The gunman and his companion were both believed to be at-large as of midday Saturday.

Police at the scene of the shooting said the suspects were two black males, one of whom wore a gray sweater, black pants, and a black jacket with a large symbol on the back. The other wore a black coat with a red hoodie underneath and blue jeans.

Investigators are also considering the possibility that the offenders were in the area to conduct robberies, but CPD’s chief spokesperson, Anthony Guglielmi, said at midday Saturday that surveillance cameras in the area had captured no images of the two suspects having any sort of “encounter” with Rivera’s party before the shooting. The men made no demands for valuables or the victim's vehicle before shooting began, Riccio said.
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Home invaders batter Boystown man Saturday; Cops eye possible pattern

Approximate locations of the three incidents. | Multiplottr
At least three residents of the Wrigleyville and Boystown neighborhoods have come face-to-face with intruders during early morning hours since Wednesday, according to police reports. One of the burglars claimed to have a gun. And another incident just two blocks away on Saturday morning turned into a home invasion as two intruders attacked the victim in his own home, according to police. Here is what we have learned:

A Boystown resident called police around 12:15 a.m. on Saturday morning after two men broke into his home and attacked him in the 700 block of West Cornelia.

The victim, 27, said he was in his home when he heard loud banging noises at his front door. That’s when he realized that two unknown men were inside his home and a fight broke out, according to police. The victim suffered a cut to his forehead but declined medical attention.

Police said the offenders escaped with an iPhone after attempting to get some computer equipment. The victim described the intruders as two black men in their 20’s who wore surgical masks. One is about 6-feet tall, 160 pounds, and wore a green winter jacket. The other is also about 6-feet tall, and he wore a dark winter coat with fur around the hood or collar.

The case has been classified as a  home invasion.

In earlier cases:

• Around 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, a Wrigleyville man reported that a burglar entered his home and claimed to have a gun in the 900 block of West Cornelia. The victim told a local neighborhood watch group that he heard footsteps outside his bedroom around 4 a.m. and he yelled, “who is there?”

The burglar replied “John from the third floor,” which the victim knew was incorrect information. The victim slammed his bedroom door shut, and the offender hit the door with his hands, saying that he had a gun, according to the neighborhood watch post.

"An 8-year-old 22-inch TV" was taken, the man said.

Police classified the incident as a non-forcible burglary, which indicates that no doors or windows were broken to enter the home.

• At 4 a.m. on Friday, a Wrigleyville woman who lives in the 3800 block of North Clark Street was awakened by two men who entered her home through a first-floor window. No one was injured, and no property was taken.
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Streeterville robbery spree grows as tourist is held-up at gunpoint early Saturday

Approximate location of this morning's robbery. | Google
A visitor from Venezuela was robbed at gunpoint as she sat in her car in the Streeterville neighborhood early Saturday, according to police reports.

Two men approached the 24-year-old woman in the 900 block of North Dewitt and opened her car doors around 12:55 a.m. One of the men then pulled out a handgun and took the woman’s cash, phone, and credit cards before speeding off in a black SUV.

The woman told police the robbers were two black men between 20- and 25-years-old who wore dark clothing.

Investigators believe the robbery may be related to a series of three hold-ups that were reported in Streeterville and the Loop on Thursday evening.

In those cases, one to three men approached victims on foot and took valuables by force before fleeing in a black Ford SUV bearing a license plate that begins with BB71.

Thursday’s robberies were reported in the first block of North State; the 200 block of East Superior; and the 200 block of East Grand, according to a community alert that was issued Saturday morning by Area Central detectives.

The three offenders are black males between 18- and 25-years-old, according to the alert.

Anyone with information about the hold-ups may contact Area Central investigators at 312-747-8380 about pattern #P19-1-080.
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