Category Archives: Seen on CBS 2

Death Of Off-Duty CPD Officer Part Of Rise In Violence and Crime In River North

Chicago (CBS) — Flashing lights are no stranger to one of the wealthiest parts of Chicago. The River North area, known for its nightlife and restaurants, is in a police district that’s experienced more than a 60 percent increase in crime in the past four years.

Homicides are rare, but the overnight killing of an off-duty Chicago police officer happened within a seven-minute walk of another River North murder.

Only two weeks ago, Thurman Bailey died while working security outside the now-shuttered Sound Bar.

Police announced the arrest of Armond Williams Friday. They say Williams fired his gun during a fight with the bouncer.

Saturday is the one-year anniversary of Miguel Beedle’s murder. He was outside a River North club when police say Gino Bassett saw Beedle counting cash, followed him to an alley and tried to rob him. Bassett is accused of stabbing the father of three in the neck, killing him.

Robbery also appears to be the motive of a River North mystery woman.

Police believe she targeted partygoers by posing as an Uber and Lyft driver, then robbing riders at least nine different times last summer.

CBS 2 asked police — what’s up with crime in River North?

“Anywhere you go, if you mix alcohol and people with illegal guns, there’s a possibility something could occur,” CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson said.

But, the superintendent was mostly talking about thefts and disturbances. As for the double digit increase of overall crime in the neighborhood?

“We’ll certainly dig into it and see if there is a particular pattern down there,” Johnson said.

Within a half-mile radius of the latest River North tragedy, police data shows 20 serious incidents in a span of only two weeks.

Chicago police say in addition to its patrols in the area, River North is also well-covered by surveillance cameras run by both the city and private businesses.

At Least 12 Detectives Working To Find Out Who Killed CPD Officer John Rivera

Chicago (CBS) — The city of Chicago lost an officer, and Julian Martinez lost one of his best friends. He says he met John Rivera in the first grade. They grew up together on the Far South Side in Hegewisch.

“He was the last person in the world to deserve this,” Martinez said. “All I keep asking myself is, ‘Why? Why him?’ He would never do anything. He was the perfect person.”

RELATED John Rivera, 23, Off-Duty CPD Officer Fatally Shot In River North: What We Know

Chicago police say Rivera and his friends had left a bar in River North Saturday morning and were sitting in a car around 3:30 a.m. Investigators say two men approached the car near Clark and Huron and started shooting.

“This appears to be a unprovoked attack against a group of individuals who went out to unwind on a Friday night,” Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said.

Sources say two groups were fighting in River North. One group of people went looking for another group, and they stumbled upon Rivera and his friends. According to sources, the shooter may have thought Rivera was someone else.

Hegewisch barber Neko Castillo says Rivera was a friend who wouldn’t hurt a fly.

“One of those situations where some people ask, ‘oh, do you think he could have been having altercations with anybody?’ From my point of view from knowing him, I don’t think so,” Castillo said.

Police say Rivera had just wrapped up a shift around 10 p.m. Friday.

Martinez says he’s also friends with another off-duty officer who was in the car and was not shot. He says he was planning on going out with the group, but his girlfriend felt sick.

“I probably would have been in that car with them and God knows where I would be right now, whether dead, shot, still alive or traumatized,” Martinez said.

Martinez says he’s also friends with another person in the car who was shot. He says that person is up and talking but still at the hospital.

Police say they are questioning one person, who is not a suspect. They’re also reviewing security video.

Family Of Man Shot And Killed By Chicago Police Awarded $5 Million

Chicago (CBS) — The city of Chicago will pay millions to the family of a man shot and killed by Chicago police.

RELATED Man Dies After Being Shot By Police In South Austin

Pod camera video shows the scene, just moments before the shooting back in May 2014. Attorneys for the victim’s family say a Chicago police officer shot and killed 37-year-old Gary Smith in the city’s Austin neighborhood.

At the time, police said an officer had grabbed Smith, who then pulled a gun on him. But, witnesses testified in court that Smith was unarmed and actually had his hands raised in the air, when police shot him multiple times.

The jury awarded Smith’s family $5 million.

Smith’s daughter says she’s glad the jury saw the truth, but it doesn’t ease her pain.

“He was loving. He loved me and my brother. He loved family. He was big about family. He was an awesome person,” Dasha Davis said.

A spokesperson for the city’s law department says they are disappointed in the verdict.

‘Gross Mistakes’ Made By DCFS Case Worker Prior To Death Of 2-Year-Old Ja’Hir Gibbons: Pritzker

Chicago (CBS) — Gov. JB Pritzker said he’s outraged by the system and circumstances that led to the beating death of two-year-old Ja’Hir Gibbons — police say at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend, Dejon Waters.

“There’s an individual and an agency that have made gross mistakes,” Pritzker said.

That individual is the caseworker who visited Ja’Hair’s home two days before he was killed and filed a report saying the boy and his five-year-old brother were safe. Following Ja’Hir’s death, the same caseworker submitted a second report saying he wasn’t present during the visit.

RELATED UPDATE: Case Worker Who Visited Home Of Two-Year-Old Two Days Before He Died While In the Care of Mother’s Boyfriend May Have Lied

“Here we have people who are responsible being irresponsible, maybe even filing false reports,” Pritzker said.

The case worker came to DCFS through a state contract with OMNI Youth Services, which provides about two dozen employees to the state at a cost of about $3 million a year.

Gov. Pritzker says that contract and others with DCFS are now under review.

A CBS 2 producer caught up with OMNI’s executive director Jay Meyer at their Buffalo Grove headquarters to ask about the death of Ja’Hir.

“Anytime a child dies, it’s a tragedy,” he said.

As for the allegation of false reporting by the case worker, Meyer says the employee has been removed from service.

“If you have a DCFS contract and you have an employee who is being investigated, that employee can no longer see, work with families or children. That’s per DCFS policy,” Meyer said.

Meantime, Gov. Pritzker placed some of the blame for the DCFS mess on his predecessor and the lack of investment in case workers, social services and finding proper leadership for the state agency, which has had 12 directors in 10 years.

Pritzker vows to change that starting with funding for 126 new case workers to reduce the backlog of cases.

The governor says the priority right now is checking on the situation of every single child that’s under DCFS’s care now. How the state will be able to conduct reviews of all DCFS cases is unclear.

CBS 2 requested an on-camera interview with anyone from DCFS who could talk about the case and the case worker, but those requests were not granted.

5-Year-Old Girl Kaitlynn Jeffries Killed In Englewood House Fire

CHICAGO (CBS) — A 5-year-old girl was killed Friday morning, in a house fire in the Englewood neighborhood.

Chicago Fire Department Battalion Chief Thomas Carbonneau said crews received the first call about the fire at 7 a.m. at a two-flat at 58th and May, and firefighters arrived within four minutes, and immediately began a search of the building.

A 5-year-old girl was found dead on a bunk bed in a first-floor bedroom. Relatives identified her as Kaitlynn Jeffries.

“She was deceased, and she was beyond medical help,” Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.

Relatives said Kaitlynn was a kindergartener at Nicholson STEM Academy.

Carbonneau said finding out a child died in the fire was “Very difficult for all our men.”

“It never gets easier. The more you see, the harder it is sometimes,” he said. “We’ll go back, and talk, and go over what went on here, and make sure everyone’s okay to go back to work, and I’m sure they are. The fire department’s a tough team.”

No working smoke detectors were found on the first floor, although one working smoke detector was found on the second floor.

A man who lives in the building said he tried to go back in to get the girl out, but firefighters would not let him go inside.

“With the volume of fire we had, for us to let somebody else in there is endangering them. So the person told us where they thought the child was, and we went there right away,” Carbonneau said. “We can’t let people in the buildings.”

No one else was injured in the fire. Flames spread to a neighboring home before the fire was extinguished.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

R. Kelly’s Attorneys Delay Request For Singer To Go To Dubai For Concerts

CHICAGO (CBS) — R. Kelly’s attorneys on Friday asked a judge to wait to rule on their request to allow the embattled R&B singer to travel to Dubai in April to perform in concerts while he’s free on bond in his sexual abuse case.

Attorney Doug Anton said Kelly’s defense team wants time to provide more information on the concert plans before making their case to Judge Lawrence Flood.

“Although the pickup shows that we usually do in Dubai is something where an out of country talent will come into country, and then do personal appearances, and then book shows, the court requires a little more formality with regard to how we’re going to do that,” Anton said after the hearing. “So we’re going to make sure that we do everything the judge and the state need for us to do to comply with those formalities.”

Flood scheduled the next hearing in the case for May 7, after the planned concerts in Dubai, but lead defense attorney Steve Greenberg said he could ask the judge to schedule another hearing before then once they’ve gathered all the information they need to get a ruling in their favor.

“I want the court to be comfortable in making a decision,” Greenberg said.

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Kelly’s lawyers have said it’s been hard for the singer to find work in the United States since his arrest on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and the earlier broadcast of the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” detailing multiple allegations of sexual and physical abuse.

“Robert needs to be working again,” Anton said.

In addition to the concerts in Dubai, Kelly is hoping to book other concerts in the U.S. and overseas. Anton said the singer has received approximately 150 emails in the past six weeks, with “offers to perform in just every place possible you can think on the planet.”

Greenberg said, although the United Arab Emirates does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., Greenberg said Kelly has no intention of staying in Dubai, and would return to the United States after his concerts. He noted Kelly traveled all over the world while facing child pornography charges more than a decade ago, and never missed a court date in six years while that case was pending. Kelly was acquitted of those charges in 2008.

Kelly’s publicist, Darrell Johnson, said the singer is eager to “prove his innocence.”

“Right now he needs to get back to things he loves; basketball, music. Once he gets past that, he’s ready for trial,” Johnson said.

Greenberg has said Kelly is struggling to pay his legal bills and child support payments. He spent three nights in jail earlier this month after failing to pay more than $161,000 in overdue child support. His friends and family pooled together money to make those payments and get him out of jail.

Kelly has pleaded not guilty to the sexual abuse charges. As a condition of his bond, he was ordered to surrender his passport, and cannot leave Illinois without the judge’s permission.

Greenberg said, because of cancelled concerts in Illinois, being booted by his record label, and the removal of Kelly’s music from several streaming services, the R&B singer has been forced to look at other ways to make money, including traveling to Dubai to perform.

“I’ve never seen anyone who’s got this kind of a storm … whirling around him, and he gets up every day, and he still tries to do music. He shows up for court. He holds his head high,” Greenberg said.

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The alleged abuse goes back 20 years, spanning from 1998 to 2010. Prosecutors have said Kelly sexually abused four females, including three underage girls. Kelly allegedly had a witness make sex tapes of him having sex with one of the victims, a 14-year-old girl.

Allegations of Kelly’s sexual abuse go back decades and have prompted a recent nationwide protest called #MuteRKelly to boycott his music, in the wake of a Lifetime documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,” featuring interviews with the music artist’s alleged accusers.

In 2008, Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges connected to a videotape of him allegedly having sex with an underage girl. It took six years from the time Kelly was charged with the offense to the end of the trial. It took the jury less than a day to deliberate.

Indonesian Airline Cancels $4.9 Billion 737 Order, As Feds Ramp Up Boeing Probe

CHICAGO (CBS) — Indonesia’s national airline is canceling a $4.9 billion order for Boeing 737 Max aircraft, after two deadly crashes involving the planes in five months; and Boeing is promising changes as investigations into the company ramp up.

Sources tell CBS News the Justice Department’s fraud unit subpoenaed documents, records, and data concerning the approval process for the 737 Max aircraft.

“If there is any kind of documentation that indicates that they knew there was a problem, and either didn’t resolve to the satisfaction of the FAA or didn’t reveal that, that could put them in jeopardy in terms of a possible criminal violation,” said former FBI executive David Gomez.

PT Garuda Indoesia had ordered 50 Max 8 jets in 2014, and received the first plane from the order last year, but is requesting to cancel the order, citing a loss of confidence.

“Passengers always ask what type of plane they will fly as they have lost trust and confidence in the Max 8 jet,” Garuda spokesman Ikhsan Rosan told The Associated Press, “This would harm our business.”

Garuda is the first airline to announce a cancellation of 737 Max planes since the new model jets were grounded over fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Garuda joined other airlines worldwide in grounding its one Max 8 jet after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight this month which killed all 157 people aboard. It came less than five months after 189 people died in the Oct. 29 crash of another Max 8, operated by Indonesian private carrier Lion Air.

Rosan said that Garuda plans to meet with Boeing representatives next week in Jakarta to discuss details of cancelling the order.

“We don’t want to use Max jets … but maybe will consider switching it with another Boeing model of plane,” Rosan said. He said Indonesian passengers are afraid to take flights using any Max model, whether it’s the 8, 9 or 10 series.

The Ethiopian Airlines crash earlier this month and the Lion Air disaster off Indonesia in October killed 346 people combined. Both planes crashed minutes after takeoff.

Preliminary flight data indicates the jets struggled to gain altitude, and published reports reveal a safety assessment Boeing gave the FAA appeared to downplay the operation of the planes’ anti-stall systems. In the Lion Air flight, it’s believed the anti-stall system repeatedly pushed the plane’s nose down before the crash.

Boeing said it will add a warning system that alerts pilots to a sensor failure on the 737 Max. It had been offered as an $80,000 option, but it appears neither plane that crashed was equipped with the warning system.

“Most likely it was a connection between technology that may be new, and training that might not have been ready yet either, and crew procedures and airline procedures that also might have been a mistake” said aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia.

Ethiopian Airlines is defending its pilots after the New York Times reported they weren’t properly trained on the 737 Max aircraft. The airline said its pilots went through all the training required by Boeing and the FAA to fly the Max 8.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

CPS Demands Answers About Questionable Spending By Chicago Virtual Charter School,

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools officials are asking serious questions of Chicago Virtual Charter School, following a CBS 2 investigation of mass turnover, dysfunction, and questionable finances.

The district sent a list of demands to Chicago Virtual Charter School (CVCS), including details of travel costs paid for an administrator who lives in Atlanta and a pay raise for CEO Dr. Cheryl Pruitt.

Pruitt saw her salary bum up $26,000 to $176,000 while the school was on financial probation for not meeting CPS accountability requirements.

“I didn’t get a large raise, and that’s something to be discussed with the board,” Pruitt said last week.

Now, CPS wants to know why she received that raise while the school was on financial probation, sending a letter to the CVCS board president, citing “allegations made by CBS Chicago of questionable spending.”

School district leaders also are curious about calculations that CVCS reimbursed director of strategy Angela Richardson-Bryant $3,752 to fly between Chicago and her home in Atlanta.

Those flights were first paid for when Richardson-Bryant was the school’s board president, a volunteer position. CVCS then promoted her to director of strategy, knowing she lived out of state. Her travel costs were accompanied by a $135,000 salary.

Richardson-Bryant was not happy CBS 2 tracked her down outside last week’s board meeting. She claimed the report on her travel expenses “lacks integrity.”

“Journalistic integrity is lacking,” she said.

CPS apparently didn’t think so, ordering a written response about her reimbursements by next Tuesday.

The district also inquired about pending charges against Pruitt, and wants to know why she was hired at CVCS.

Pruitt made headlines last October, when she was arrested for allegedly double-billing the Gary Community Schools Corp for a three-day trip to a conference in Los Angeles in 2016.