When Cook County prosecutors rejected charging a suspect in the shooting that left 7-year-old Serenity Broughton dead and wounded her younger sister, it set off an extraordinary chain of events earlier this month that veteran court observers believe is unprecedented in recent history.
A high-ranking Chicago police commander, frustrated by another recent case rejection by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office and confident in his detective’s work, went to a judge to have the suspect held in custody for longer and circumvent prosecutors to charge the man with murder and attempted murder.
But hours later, top police brass reversed course — and persuaded another judge to essentially “uncharge” the suspect, as a source familiar with the case described the move.
The court proceedings were so hush-hush — done without an attorney for the suspect or a prosecutor present — that no record of any of the actions were ever officially filed within the court system.
While previous news accounts highlighted the disagreement between police and prosecutors, the new revelations include documentation of the extent cops went to pursue the case without Foxx’s involvement — and also show how it ended up driving a wedge between police leaders and their subordinates.
The case has had lasting reverberations in the Chicago Police Department, with some saying it has decimated morale among an already beleaguered police detective division.
What’s more, the family of the victims have been left without justice and unsure if there is a clear path to getting it. While law enforcement authorities were feuding, the suspect was released from custody and now can’t be found, according to a law enforcement source.
“We don’t know where to go,” said Regina Broughton, the sisters’ grandmother. “It’s not seeming like the justice system is working for us. And that’s disheartening, it’s just angering.”