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How Did Jamel Danzy, Man Accused Of Buying Gun Later Used In Shooting That Killed CPD Officer Ella French, Get Out Of Jail So Quickly? It's Actually Not Uncommon In Federal Cases

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A day after the release of Jamel Danzy – the man accused of making a straw purchase to buy the gun later used to kill Chicago Police Officer Ella French – many are questioning how he got of jail so quickly.

As CBS 2's Meredith Barack reported Thursday night, it actually is not uncommon for straw purchasers only to spend a few days behind bars – even on federal charges.

What typically happens on a federal case is that a defendant is arrested, brought before the federal magistrate, and then the government decides if they want to keep the defendant detained or released.

"This is what happens in 99 percent of cases with this type of charge in federal court," said CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller.

Miller said in Danzy's initial appearance, the government decided they wanted him detained.

"The case was continued for a couple days for the defensive hearing, and at that time, the government changed their mind," Miller said. "They were willing to agree with his attorney on conditions of release and the judge went along with it."

We found other examples where straw purchasers were released fairly quickly.

One man purchased three guns in Hammond, Indiana, then sold them in Chicago. He was arrested on August 25, 2020 - and according to the Bureau of Prisons, he was released on August 26, 2020.

We asked Miller why this happens.

"In federal court, what they do is try to impose conditions to bond to let you out," he said. "A typical condition is electronic monitoring, or you have a third-party custodian that has to make sure you go to court and behave yourself."

But what if you're charged at a state level?

We found a 23 year-old Chicago man was arrested in December of 2020 in a straw purchasing scheme. His bond was set at $75,000 - much more than Danzy's $4,500.

"And state court, you post the amount of money," Miller said. "You can't post the amount of money, you're typically held until your bond is either lowered or you can post the bond."

Prosecutors say Danzy bought the gun in March from a gun dealer in Hammond and then gave it to an Illinois resident who had a criminal record and could not legally purchase a weapon. Danzy filed paperwork with the dealer stating that the gun was for himself. But the gun ended up in the hands of Eric Morgan, one of two brothers now charged in the shooting that killed Officer French.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert ordered Danzy's release from federal custody on Wednesday, citing the fact he has no prior criminal record, and that he has a job as a teacher's aide in Merrillville, Indiana. Danzy was released on a $4,500 unsecured bond.

CBS 2's Charlie De Mar talked exclusively with Danzy after his release. De Mar noted to Danzy that charging documents indicated that he admitted to purchasing the gun – and asked Danzy what he would say if some people might ask how he got caught up in such a situation.

"Just do right," Danzy said. "Just do right by what the other person is supposed to be. Do the right thing."

De Mar asked Danzy if he was in any way coerced or tricked into the situation.

Danzy's answer was: "I mean, things happen. Things happen for the wrong reason. I really don't want to talk more about it. It happened, so I'm out, and I'm happy that I'm out and everything – so I'm happy to see my family. I'm not a criminal. I'm a good person."

More than half of all crime guns used in Chicago come from outside Illinois, according to data from the 2017 gun trace report.

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