2 men plead guilty, sentenced 30 years after veteran dies following Hyde Park carjacking attempt

Then-teens accused of beating 73-year-old, causing him to have a fatal heart attack

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, February 19, 2024
Vigil held for Vietnam vet killed in Hyde Park carjacking attempt
Two suspects have been charged with a violent attempted carjacking in Hyde Park that ended with the death of a Vietnam War veteran

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two men charged in a violent 2021 attempted carjacking that ended with the death of a Vietnam War veteran pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.

Dushawn Williams, who was 17 at the time of the incident and is now 19, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery with a firearm Friday. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Frank Harris, who was 18 at the time of the crime and is now 21, pleaded guilty in January to the same charge in exchange for a 30-year sentence, as well.

Police said Williams and Harris were responsible for the beating that led to Keith Cooper's death.

A Marine veteran to his core, Cooper's family said he had his final arrangements already planned out.

"This is the place where he was last seen alive, living his life, so I want to celebrate his life here," Cooper's daughter Keimika Carlton said at the time.

Carlton had raced to a Hyde Park shopping center after her father was essentially beaten to death by two teenagers trying to steal his SUV, according to police.

Harris was initially charged with murder and vehicular hijacking, and Williams was charged with first-degree murder in Cooper's death.

"I'm grateful that the justice system is moving forward," Carlton said.

SEE ALSO: 2 teens charged after Vietnam vet dies in Hyde Park carjacking attempt: police

Both were arrested shortly after police said they tried to carjack the 73-year-old Cooper, a Vietnam veteran who stopped for groceries in Hyde Park on his way to his daughter's house.

Williams targeted Cooper right after he got out of his car to go into a drug store at a South Side strip mall, investigators said.

They said the then-teen first approached Cooper from behind, snatching his keys out of his hand. When the fob fell to the ground and Harris picked it up, Cooper started screaming for help and demanded his keys back.

Prosecutors said security camera video shows Harris walking up behind the veteran and punching him in the head. Cooper can be seen writhing in pain.

Williams then shoved Cooper in the chest before the pair ran away without the car.

Carlton said the beating caused her father to have a heart attack and die.

"Out of frustration because they couldn't get into the car, I kind of wish they just would have gave up and left," she said.

Witnesses who fought the two suspects helped police track them down. They were caught about a half-mile away after a witness flagged down a University of Chicago police squad.

Prosecutors said Harris allegedly committed the crime while on probation. He pleaded guilty in May of 2021 to a previous carjacking, in which he used a replica gun to rob his victim.

Harris' public defender said her client, who she said was shot the month before the incident, was a senior in an alternative summer school and had a paid position with the anti-violence group Good Kids Mad City.

"We, unfortunately, lost contact with Frank for the most part. We wish there were more resources out here so we could have given him more opportunities so situations like this won't happen," said Kofi Ademola, an adult advisor for Good Kids Mad City.

The video in the player above is from an earlier report.

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