Chicago police Superintendent David Brown late Wednesday issued an angry statement against a federal judge’s decision to release the man accused of making a straw purchase of the gun used to kill Chicago police Officer Ella French.
Jamel Danzy, (pictured right) who faces federal charges of conspiring to violate firearms laws, was granted a $4,500 appearance bond pending trial, meaning he will not need to pay bail to get out of custody. At a brief hearing conducted by telephone, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert on Wednesday noted Danzy’s steady employment history and lack of criminal background.
Brown was not impressed with the choice, issuing a statement to the media.
“To say that I am extremely disappointed in U.S Magistrate Judge Jeffery Gilbert’s decision to release Jamel Danzy on an unsecured bond today is an understatement,” Brown said. “It is an outrage.”
The decision sets a dangerous precedent, Brown’s statement continued, “that straw purchasers like Danzy are not a danger to society, despite the fact that his alleged actions directly led to the murder of a Chicago Police Officer and left another in critical condition.”
As part of the terms of Danzy’s release, he cannot have contact with the man for whom he allegedly straw-purchased the gun. Danzy allegedly told investigators he was in a relationship with that man, who is referred to in court documents as “Individual A” but is known to be Eric Morgan, the brother of French’s alleged killer.
“No contact with this person, Mr. Danzy, direct or indirect,” Gilbert said. “(Not) by person, by telephone, by letter, by email, by social media, by hand signals, by smoke signals, by carrier pigeon, no contact at all with that person under these conditions.”
French was killed and her partner was critically wounded Saturday after a traffic stop in West Englewood.
Two brothers have been charged in connection with their alleged roles in the shooting: Emonte Morgan, who faces charges including murder and attempted murder, and Eric Morgan, who faces weapons charges and obstruction of justice. Cook County prosecutors say Emonte Morgan shot the officers, then handed the gun to his brother, who ran to a nearby yard where he was held by residents until police arrived.
A Glock semi-automatic pistol was recovered from the yard near where Eric Morgan was arrested, Cook County prosecutors said, which matches federal prosecutors’ allegations that “Individual A” was arrested with the gun after French’s shooting.
Shortly after the shooting, investigators traced both the gun and the car to Danzy, a restaurant worker in northwest Indiana, according to the federal complaint.
Records showed that Danzy bought the gun in March from a licensed dealer in Hammond, where he claimed to be buying the weapon for himself, according to the complaint.
Agents for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Sunday tracked down Danzy at the restaurant where he works, and he agreed to be interviewed on tape in an agent’s car in the parking lot.
Agents showed him the paperwork from the dealer, and at first, he claimed to have bought the gun for himself, the complaint states. But “after further questioning,” he admitted he had bought it for someone in Chicago — Eric Morgan — who had a felony record and could not buy a gun for himself.
Danzy told officials that he and Morgan have been in a relationship for about three years, according to the complaint. Morgan gave Danzy money and told him exactly the type of gun he wanted Danzy to purchase for him, the complaint states.
And he went to Indiana to pick up the gun shortly after Danzy purchased it, according to the complaint.
And months later, on Saturday night, both Morgan brothers were taken into custody after the traffic stop where French was killed and her partner wounded.
Brown said the amount of illegal guns in Chicago and across the country is helping to drive an ongoing violence spike.
“The role of the justice system, particularly that of federal prosecutors and judges is more important than ever,” Brown said in the statement. “And by allowing Mr. Danzy to walk free the court has done a disservice to Officer French’s memory, to the entire Chicago Police Department, and to the thousands of men and women across the country who work around the clock, day in and day out to stem the violence that is plaguing our communities.”
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