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Prosecutor’s trip delaying charges in officer’s killing, sources say


Anita Alvarez

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Updated: October 22, 2011 12:16AM

Chicago Police detectives have been questioning and want to charge a 24-year-old prison inmate with murder in the shooting death last summer of off-duty police Officer Michael Bailey, but charges aren’t being filed yet because Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez is out of town, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday.

“This case is not getting charged today because Anita Alvarez has left on vacation,” a source familiar with the case said. “Point-blank, they told us she left town [Friday] morning and won’t be around for the press conference.”

The suspect was questioned Thursday night and made a statement to police and prosecutors that he was “going to rob Bailey” when Bailey pulled his gun, they exchanged gunfire and he shot and killed the off-duty cop.

Detectives who have been working the case for the past year also have statements from eight other people to support their case and think they have a “chargeable case,” the sources said.

They said that the detectives were told Thursday night that the filing of any charges against the 24-year-old inmate would have to wait because Alvarez, who is in Hawaii for a conference, was leaving town.

“So he is not getting charged today and won’t be charged for two weeks — until she gets back,” one source said. “They want additional interviews done with witnesses we and they have talked to already. They want ’em brought down to the grand jury. Normally, they bring witnesses to the grand jury after they charge and before they indict. But they’re buying time until she can get back from vacation.”

Dan Kirk, the state’s attorney’s chief of staff, said that’s not the case.

“There are things that still need to be done,” Kirk said. “There are significant things that need to be completed in terms of the overall case assessment. Once those items are completed, we’ll be in a position to make a charging decision on the case. We’ll charge the case when the case is ready to be charged. It’s got nothing to do with whether the state’s attorney is physically in Cook County or not.”

In a statement released Friday, police characterized the investigation as “on-going”

“The Chicago Police Department continues to work with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, and progress has been made in the investigation. Detectives continue to conduct interviews; however charges are not anticipated in the immediate future,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Kirk also took issue with the characterization of Alvarez’s trip as a vacation. Alvarez is in Kona, Hawaii, attending the Conference of Western Attorneys General, where she is scheduled to make a presentation — along with Guam Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas — on Tuesday morning on the “Role of Attorneys General in Combating Human Trafficking.”

Kirk said Alvarez plans to return in “a few days.”

The group includes the attorney general from each of 15 Western states and three Pacific territories. Its conferences offer panel sessions on legal issues and also a chance to relax, according to the group’s website, which says the meetings “are oriented towards full guest and family participation throughout the program. All registered attendees, their registered guests and family are invited to the opening dinner, Picnic Under the Stars, on Sunday, July 10 at Turtle Point on the Fairmont grounds. We’ll be picnicking, stargazing with an astronomer and enjoy a performance by musician and entertainer Jamie Lawrence. On Monday, July 11, we will experience a Polynesian feast and dramatic performance of the Gathering of the Kings. On Tuesday, July 12, guests are free to enjoy dinner on their own. Finally, on Wednesday, July 13, all registered attendees are invited to our closing event with a beach party at the Fairmont’s Coconut Grove.”

Bailey — 62 years old and less than a month away from retirement — was killed outside his home in the Park Manor neighborhood on the city’s South Side about 6 a.m. July 18, 2010, in what authorities think was a botched robbery attempt while cleaning the black Buick Regal he had bought himself as a retirement present just three weeks earlier. The father of three had just completed an overnight shift guarding then-Mayor Richard M. Daley’s South Loop town house.

Gunned down just steps from his front door, Bailey was the third Chicago cop shot dead in a two-month run of fatal gun violence against the police that was the worst the city had seen in 40 years.

Sources said the break in the Bailey case came late last year from a fellow inmate who had crossed paths with the 24-year-old suspect while being held at the Cook County Jail. According to the informant, the sources said, the suspect “told his fellow inmates that he was involved in the killing of a policeman. He didn’t say Bailey. He used the location — 74th and Evans.”

Bailey’s family, distraught at his death, moved out of the Park Manor neighborhood.

“Don’t you think that officer’s family has suffered enough?” Mike Shields, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents Chicago Police officers, said Friday. “Aren’t they entitled to some justice and some closure, or should they have to wait until the state’s attorney is done with her vacation just so she can get some political capital at the press conference?”

Shields said he is also furious about the “hardworking detectives” who’ve devoted “hundreds of hours, only to have the state’s attorney come back and say, ‘We can’t charge today. Let’s put it on “continuing investigation” status.’ ”

Detective Dan Gorman, who has investigated a number of police murders, said detectives think they have a case that could not only be charged but won.

“They know when a case is ready to be charged,” said Gorman, a detective for eight years and a vice president of the union. “They’ve been working with the state’s attorney’s office all along. They wouldn’t be asking for charges if they didn’t know that it was solid.”

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