The attorney for the man charged with murdering Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer blamed the decorated officer on Tuesday for the 2018 shooting.
During opening statements of Shomari Legghette’s trial at Cook County’s Leighton Criminal Court Building, his lawyer Scott Kamin said that many witnesses were on hand as Bauer chased his client to the Loop stairwell where the shooting took place but none heard the commander announce his office.
“It’s not clear that he’s actually a cop,” Kamin told jurors. “It’s just somebody with a blue coat on.”
“It’s a tragedy but actually Commander Bauer brought it on himself,” Kamin said, posing the shooting as an act of self-defense.
In her opening statement, Assistant State’s Attorney Risa Lanier told the jury Bauer, a 31-year police veteran, heard a radio call about Legghette and chased him into the stairwell, just outside the Thompson Center.
She said Legghette, now 46, was wearing a bullet-proof vest, carrying packets of cocaine, heroin and marijuana, and armed with a loaded semi-automatic handgun.
“Moments later the sound of gunshots, one right after the other, would ring out from inside that stairwell,” Lanier said. “And then silence.”
Lanier said the police found Bauer’s body with his police radio still on, his handcuffs out on the ground, and his pistol still snapped in its holster.
She said Legghette “knew that Cmdr. Bauer was a police officer attempting to arrest him or detain him, and he killed him for it.”
But Kamin insisted his client was a “normal person being upset — a normal person who deals drugs and maybe does other crimes — I don’t know, but they’re minor.”
“He’s never done anything like shooting,” Kamin said. “He had no intention of doing any kind of shooting a police officer.”
The Feb. 13, 2018, shooting made Bauer the highest-ranking Chicago cop killed on duty in decades.
The courtroom was packed Tuesday with police officers, Bauer’s family members, and high-profile spectators including Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Circuit Court Judge Vincent Gaughan and CPD First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio.
Earlier in the day, Judge Erica Reddick denied two last-ditch defense motions. One sought the case’s dismissal based on the defendant’s rights to a speedy trial.
The other sought a change in the trial’s location because of recent coverage by Chicago newspapers.
Reddick ruled there was “no showing whatsoever of any prejudice to the defendant as a result of the media attention.”
The trial could extend to next week. Legghette is expected to take the witness stand on his own behalf.