CHICAGO (WLS) -- A federal judge Wednesday ordered the immediate release on bond of an Indiana man accused of providing the gun used to shoot and kill a Chicago police officer last weekend.
Jamel Danzy, 29, from Hammond is charged with Conspiring to Defraud the United States. Prosecutors say he falsified federal gun paperwork to purchase a .22 caliber pistol last March from a dealer in Hammond-intending to provide the weapon to a Chicago man who wasn't qualified to buy firearms.
Prosecutors allege that Danzy was asked by Eric Morgan to purchase the firearm. Morgan is now charged in connection to the shooting CPD Officer Ella French during a traffic stop on Saturday night. A second officer was critically wounded. Cook County prosecutors say that after Emonte Morgan allegedly shot the officers he gave the gun to his brother Eric who fled the scene. Police found Morgan being held by witnesses south of where the incident occurred and allegedly found the .22 caliber Glock pistol in the backyard where he was detained.
U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert agreed to a $4,500 "unsecured bond" for Danzy during a detention hearing on Wednesday but that bond does not require posting cash unless he violates imposed conditions. In the telephone hearing Judge Gilbert said his finding for no cash or property bail was based on an agreement between prosecutors, Danzy's attorney and pre-trial services. Gilbert called the bond arrangement an "extreme good behavior release" that prohibits Danzy from violating any law, even committing a traffic offense.
It was stated in court that the Hammond man has no criminal history. As the I-Team reported on Tuesday, his clean legal history had allowed for legal purchase of a firearm, even though federal investigators say that buying a gun for someone not qualified to do so-known as a straw purchase-is illegal. The lack of criminal history also afforded Danzy consideration for an unsecured release, despite the nature of the crime authorities say was committed with the gun he allegedly provided.
Danzy was present for the court hearing by telephone, apparently from the Livingston County jail in downstate Pontiac, Ill. where the U.S. Bureau of Prisons frequently houses arrestees for short periods. His attorney noted that federal authorities in Chicago confiscated Danzy's cell phone when he was arrested, and that without the phone he would be "stranded" when released from jail. Judge Gilbert said that he wasn't allowed to issue orders to law enforcement, and noted that it wasn't possible for the United States "Marshal to be an Uber service" for Danzy.
He faces up to five years in prison. Danzy was ordered released on his signature despite sharp comments from federal officials after his arrest on Sunday.
"Straw purchasers and firearm traffickers enable violence with deadly consequences," said John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. "Fighting violent crime is a top priority in our office, and we are committed to holding accountable those who engage in illicit firearm transactions."
"Tragedies like this happen when people straw purchase firearms on behalf of those who are prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms themselves," said Kristen de Tineo, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. "ATF remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate these firearms trafficking schemes and prosecute those responsible."
Also as the I-Team reported this week, a federal crackdown on Chicago's illicit Indiana-to-Illinois gun corridors is a new focus of federal law enforcement here.
Late Wednesday Chicago Police Dept. Supt. David Brown was highly critical of Danzy's bond and release order. In a statement Brown said: "When I heard this afternoon that a federal judge had released the man who illegally purchased and then supplied the gun used to murder Officer Ella French, I could not believe it.
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. Danzy was released on a $4,500 unsecured bond and court supervision.
It is an outrage.
This decision sets a dangerous precedent 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.
The outrageous abundance of illegal firearms in our city and our nation is a major factor driving the violence that is continually cutting short the lives of our loved ones and fellow human beings.
The role of the justice system, particularly that of federal prosecutors and judges is more important than ever, 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."