No special prosecutor will be assigned to investigate the deadly 2011 Chicago police shooting of Flint Farmer, an unarmed man, by former officer Gildardo Sierra, Cook County’s chief criminal judge ruled Tuesday.
“I’ve had three different prosecutorial authorities decide, for whatever their reasons were (not to prosecute Sierra),” Judge LeRoy Martin Jr said at a hearing at Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
The judge’s decision came after Sierra fired 16 shots at Farmer, captured partially on dashboard camera video, in a tragedy that a police disciplinary agency concluded was “unjustified” last year, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Former State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and her successor, Kim Foxx, as well as federal prosecutors declined criminal charges against Sierra, Martin said. A request from Farmer’s father, Emmett to have a special prosecutor assigned didn’t turn up any compelling reason why the case deserved yet another look, the judge also explained, despite Chicago police’s troubling history with collusion.
An argument for a special prosecutor hinged largely on a claim that a close working relationship between Chicago officers and prosecutors would present a conflict of interest for the state attorney’s office with investigating police misconduct cases. Jeanette Samuels, the attorney for Farmer’s father, made the argument, which proved invalid for Martin.
Fox had decided that the appointment of special prosecutors was unnecessary because of changes in how her office now handles police shootings, prosecutors said.
Sierra fired 16 times at Farmer, including three shots that came as the 29-year-old lay unmoving on a parkway, in June 2011. The ex-officer had downed several beers before starting his shift the night that he fatally shot Farmer, he admitted. He thought the unarmed Farmer’s cellphone was a gun, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Before Fox took office, Alvarez declined criminal charges against Sierra in 2013.
In a rare move, The Independent Police Review Authority, the city’s police disciplinary agency that was revamped in the aftermath of the Laquan McDonald shooting, determined the shooting was unjustified last year after Sierra resigned. However, federal investigators wrapped up a probe into Farmer’s shooting without bringing chargers earlier this year.
“I was hoping and praying for another outcome,” Farmer’s father, Emmett said after Martin nixed the latest request for justice. “Why not prosecute? Why let this police officer off?”
Emmett hoped to appeal Martin’s ruling, but was not clear on how the case might proceed.