Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx issued a statement Thursday addressing the criminal history of the 18-year-old suspected of killing Officer Andres Vasquez-Lasso on Wednesday as the 5-year veteran of the department responded to a domestic incident.
Sources have confirmed the suspect’s name to the Tribune, but the paper is not naming him because he has not been charged.
Court records show Cook County prosecutors in November dropped a misdemeanor charge against the suspect after he was accused of fleeing from officers who were investigating a shooting. In a statement released through a spokesperson, Foxx said the defendant was offered community service as an alternative to traditional prosecution.
That fact surfaces at the start of two-man runoff campaign to replace Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has in recent months been critical of charging decisions in Foxx’s office and of the county’s criminal court system. City violence has been front and center during a campaign that ended with Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson winning enough votes to make the runoff.
The suspect was charged on July 30 with a misdemeanor count of resisting a peace officer for allegedly running from an officer who stopped a car he was in, according to court documents.
Chicago police officers were investigating after a man was shot in the leg on July 28, 2022 in the 2600 block of West 23rd Place in the Little Village neighborhood. The victim and witnesses described the car used in the shooting and its license plate, which police learned was stolen a couple of days earlier, according to a police report included in the case file.
Officers located the car later that evening and tried to make a stop, the report said, but the driver fled. Police eventually curbed the car and the suspect and two others ran away, the report alleged. All three were taken into custody and officers recovered two guns in the vicinity, the report said.
Prosecutors dropped the case on Nov. 17, court records show. The police report says officers modified the charges after they were initially denied by an assistant state’s attorney.
Foxx addressed the situation in a statement.
“The defendant, who had no prior record, was given an I-bond after being charged on July 29, 2022, with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor, after running from a vehicle that had been stopped by police,” Foxx said. “The defendant, who was a passenger in the vehicle, was not charged with a felony because the evidence does not support a charge of gun possession for this offender. The driver of the vehicle has been charged with felony counts of illegal gun possession, and the case is still pending.”
The suspect was diverted to alternative prosecution, she continued.
“On August 5, 2022, the defendant appeared in court and, based on his age and lack of criminal history at that time was offered an alternative to traditional prosecution, which included 25 hours of Independent Community Service. Defendant completed the 25 hours of Independent Community Service, and the case was dismissed on 11/17/22,” the statement read.
In the killing of Vasquez-Lasso, police were responding to a domestic-related call of a man with a gun in the 5200 block of South Spaulding Avenue around 4:45 p.m. and alleged found a suspect was chasing a woman down the street with a gun, Chicago police Superintendent David Brown said late Wednesday. Vasquez-Lasso was killed and the suspect wounded in an exchange of gunfire, police said.
Vasquez-Lasso, 32, lived in the Marquette Park neighborhood, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Brown told reporters Wednesday outside Mount Sinai Hospital that the officer was shot “multiple times.”
“He died while protecting Chicago and its people. We will never forget his selflessness and dedication as we continue to wrap our arms around his family and loved ones. Together, we mourn the loss of our hero,” the police department said in a statement.
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Vasquez-Lasso was in one of two pairs of responding officers who “engaged” with the suspect, who ran away from the officers. That’s when police began pursuing the suspect, and shots were exchanged “at close range” between the suspect and the deceased officer, Brown said.
“They all knew it was an offender with a gun,” Brown said. “They were there to protect this victim, and they were willing to put their lives on the line to protect this person.”
The suspect was taken to Stroger Hospital, with a gunshot wound to the upper body. Brown said no other responding officers used their weapon during the shootout.
“It happened so fast,” Brown said. “Other officers heard shots and at that point in time began to render aid and get help for this officer for a chance to survive.”
The officer’s death was the first since Aug. 7, 2021, when Chicago police Officer Ella French, 29, was shot and killed in the line of duty during a traffic stop in the West Englewood neighborhood. French was the first Chicago police officer to be shot and killed in the line of duty since Lightfoot took office in 2019.