Saturday, August 15, 2009
Another Charged In Officer Valadez's Murder
Third man charged in police killing ordered held
August 15, 2009 4:53 PM | 1 Comment | UPDATED STORY
A third Chicago man was charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a Chicago police officer in June, police said today.
Christopher Harris, 20 of the 6200 block of South Paulina Street, was charged Friday with first-degree murder. He was ordered held without bail today by Circuit Court Judge Peggy Chiampas.
Harris was taken into custody Friday after a witness identified him as a third person involved in the June 1 shooting of Chicago Police Officer Alejandro "Alex" Valadez.
Kevin Walker, 21, of the 2500 block of West 70th Street, and Shawn Gaston, 20, of the 6200 block of South Paulina Street, have each pleaded not guilty to murder charges. Last month the officer was honored posthumously in a city council resolution.
Assistant Cook County State's Atty. John Dillon said in court today that Harris fired one of the shots that struck Valadez. Dillon said Harris was riding in the back seat of the car with the two other men charged in the killing. Harris allegedly fired a .357-caliber handgun that was one of the three guns later found in the car allegedly used.
Harris' hand tested positive for evidence of gunshot residue shortly after the shooting, Dillon said, indicating Harris had recently fired a weapon. Dillon declined to comment on why there was a delay of more than two months between that positive test and Harris being charged.
Harris admitted he agreed to return to the area where he, Walker and Gaston had been fired at, according to Dillon. He also admitted to firing shots from the back seat of the car, Dillon said. Previously, police said Gaston was the shooter and Walker was the driver.
Harris' criminal background consists of two misdemeanor drug cases. He is scheduled to return to court at noon Monday for a preliminary hearing on the murder charge. His public defender said Harris was a Harper High School graduate currently attending Kennedy-King College.
Valadez, a plainclothes Chicago police officer, died on June 1 at about 2:40 p.m. after being shot in the head and critically wounded early that morning in the West Englewood neighborhood on the South Side, authorities said.
Walker, Gaston and Harris had earlier been shot at by people they believed to be rival gang members near the corner of West 60th Street and South Hermitage Avenue, police said. The men then went to another location, picked up guns and returned to the scene to retaliate, police said.
Valadez and his partner had responded to reports of the initial gunfire and were in the 6000 block of South Hermitage Avenue talking to a citizen when Gaston opened fire from a car driven by Walker, according to police. Valadez was in plainclothes at the time, but was wearing a bulletproof vest and a police star.
Valadez was the third officer killed in the line of duty in the past year.