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A man in Chicago is facing a criminal indictment of 250 felony charges including murder and armed robbery, after he shot and killed a Chicago police officer on July 7. The defendant, Bryant Brewer, is being held without bail.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Brewer confronted police veteran and Academy instructor, Officer Thor Soderberg, before he got into his car outside a police station, struggled with him for his gun, and shot him three times. Soderberg died at the scene. Brewer then opened fire at a nearby handyman and stole his tool bag before beginning to spray bullets at the facade of the police building. Brewer was finally shot and wounded after refusing a police order to drop his weapon.
The number of criminal violations Brewer is charged with seems unusually high. His attorney, William Wolf, told the Tribune that when prosecutors had the criminal indictment read in court, they did give him any reason for the high number of charges or explain them. "They haven't told me anything," Wolf said.
Each criminal statue combines several elements which include the required acts and a required state of mind (the intent). For example, the crime of first degree murder includes the elements of premeditation and the unlawful taking of a life of another human being. Therefore, the same action or series of actions, such as disarming and killing a police officer, can actually contain the elements of several different crimes. In this case, a report by WBBN News says the charges also include discharge of a firearm, armed robbery, robbery and resisting and disarming an officer.
A detail that will certainly affect Brewer's defense is that his family has said they believe he may suffer from mental illness. Brewer previously had been charged with shooting his brother in the chest, according to WBBN, but his brother refused to press charges. At the scene of the July shooting, the handyman who witnessed the incident told the Tribune he saw Brewer "talking to himself."
At least some of the decisions about about Brewer's defense will be made in the upcoming weeks. His arraignment is set for August 29.
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