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'We Can't Live In A World Where There's No Accountability,' Mayor Lightfoot Says After State's Attorney Declines To File Charges In Deadly West Side Gunfight

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Cook County State's Attorney's office decided not to file any charges this after five people were arrested following a shootout that left one person dead in the North Austin neighborhood.

A total of five people of interest were taken into custody following the Friday incident, but all were released without charges.

In a statement, the Cook County State's Attorney's office said:

"After an extensive review of the available information presented to us, we determined that the evidence was insufficient to meet our burden of proof to approve felony charges. CPD agreed with this decision. As prosecutors, we have both an ethical and legal obligation to make charging decisions based on the evidence, facts, and the law."

Chicago Police said around 10:30 a.m. Friday, 25th (Grand Central) District tactical officers responded to a call of a man with a gun near Potomac and Mason avenues. When they arrived on the scene, they saw four people get out of two cars in front of a home in the 1200 block of North Mason Avenue, and start shooting at the house.

People inside the home returned fire, shooting one of the attackers, as other assailants fled the scene in the two vehicles.

The assailant who was shot was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Two people who were wounded inside the home also went to the hospital, but their conditions were not available.

One of the vehicles that fled the scene was later found burned out near Lockwood and Chicago avenues. The second vehicle that fled the scene crashed in Oak Park near Austin Boulevard and Harrison Street. Oak Park police said the driver ran off after crashing, but was arrested in the 700 block of Lyman Avenue, with the help of Chicago Police and a canine unit.

Police said two other people were taken into the custody of Area Five detectives before they were eventually all released.

At a Monday news conference, Mayor Lori Lightfoot took issue with the State's Attorney's office's decision not to file any charges.

"I just want you to know that this is of deep concern to me," the mayor said.

Mayor Lightfoot said she met Monday with members of the West Side aldermanic caucus – composed of Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th), Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), and Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), and they all signed a letter asking Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx to reconsider the decision.

"Having looked at this; gotten a deep understanding from the detectives that were doing the investigation, it's really hard to understand that decision. It's complicated for sure. But we really urge the State's Attorney herself to get personally involved, look at the evidence, and either that there can be charges that can be brought at a minimum against the individuals who initiated the gunfire," Mayor Lightfoot said. "We can't live in a world where there's no accountability – where there's no accountability, meaning individuals who wreak havoc, who fire indiscriminately, or fire at a target but without any regard to the sanctity of life and the health and wellbeing of others – if they do not feel like the criminal justice system is going to hold them accountable, we're going to see a level of brazenness that will send this city into chaos. And we cannot let that happen. We simply cannot let that happen."

The mayor said there is video evidence, and pointed out that uniformed police officers witnessed the gunfight. She reiterated that she believes at minimum, those who initiated the gunfight must be prosecuted, but said those in the house who fired many rounds back have to be evaluated for prosecution as well.

Late Monday, the State's Attorney's office fired back and called Mayor Lightfoot out-of-line with her statements.

"As a former federal prosecutor, the Mayor knows of the ethical obligation of the prosecutor to only bring forth charges where the facts, evidence, and law support it. She is also fully aware that as a prosecutor we are obligated not to try cases in the media. It is unclear why she has chosen to make such statements, especially absent the full information that was presented to our office by CPD. The detectives reached out to our office on Friday and acknowledged at the outset that given the chaotic nature at the scene they were unable to determine how the events unfolded. We reviewed the evidence that was presented to us in consultation with the detectives and they agreed we were unable to approve charges based on the evidence presented. However, as always, as additional evidence is gathered we stand ready to bring charges when appropriate. Additionally, the facts the mayor presented today simply are not in line with what was presented to us by CPD, and not born out by the evidence we received. The staggering violence that is devastating our communities is horrific, however, we must still adhere to both our ethical and legal standards in evaluating charges. As a former prosecutor, she knows that."

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