Chicago is officially the real-life incarnation of World of Warcraft in which citizens can battle to the death without fear of the law man. In the last month there have been two instances where the State Attorney of Cook County has allowed violent criminals to get away without any serious charges being levied against them.
After a deadly shootout in broad daylight between two rival gangs on Friday, October 1, 2021, five suspects were arrested Friday and released Sunday with no charges. The gang members were not only caught on camera, but police also found more than 70 shell casings outside the home where the shootout took place—and that doesn’t include any casings from those shooting from inside the house. The fight only ceased when police arrived, but even then one of the gangs refused to leave the house they were occupying, requiring a SWAT team to extract them. The gang outside the home engaged in a car chase with police, crashing one of the two Chargers involved in the shootout; a second Charger was later found to have been torched. (Reference 1, Reference 2)
While State Attorney Foxx claims that there was insufficient evidence, the State Attorney’s Office Spokesperson Villareal stated that the decision not to charge the five suspects was based on the fact that those killed were “mutual combatants.”
Mutual combat is defined as “a fight into which both parties enter willingly, or in which two persons, upon a sudden quarrel, and in hot blood, mutually fight upon equal terms.” (Reference 3)
Shortly before the shootout in Chicago, there was another instance where two people were considered to have engaged in “mutual combat” and therefore no charges were brought against the 17 year old who murdered 18-year-old Manuel Porties, Jr. in a pre-arranged fist fight turned deadly. (Reference 4)
On September 30, 2021, around 6 PM, the two men met to have it out in a driveway. A third party filmed the entire thing; the man fighting Manuel brought a knife to the fist fight and after punching Manuel and knocking him to the ground he proceeded to stab Manuel in the neck until he was dead.
According to the definition of mutual combat, the individuals involved must mutually fight upon equal terms. When one person is armed with a knife and the other has no weapon, this clearly does not meet the standard. Manuel’s mother reports that her son’s killer had been stalking her son prior to the fight and that the fight was the result of weeks of harassment toward her son. The 17-year-old who stabbed Manuel is being charged with a misdemeanor. (Reference 5)
Chicago police and Mayor Lightfoot have expressed their outrage at Foxx’s decisions over these cases. Mayor Lightfoot has requested U.S. Attorney John Lausch to review the evidence surrounding the gang shootout, no doubt hoping that the federal attorney will find sufficient evidence to press charges. (Reference 6, Reference 7)
The concept of mutual combat has existed for over a century, but it seems to rarely apply. Back in 2012 when Tyrone Robinson engaged in mutual combat with a father and son, Aaron Young Sr. and Aaron Young Jr., he accidentally shot and killed an 8 year old bystander during the ensuing fight. According to the doctrine, everyone who participates in mutual combat with the knowledge that deadly weapons will be used takes on equal responsibility for any death resulting from the altercation. All three men were therefore found responsible and charged with the death of the child. This happened in South Carolina and is now part of their state law, based on case findings regarding mutual combat from 1918. (Reference 8)
One could argue that two gangs involved in a gunfight were involved in mutual combat, but does that mean that gang related violence is going to be allowed without any repercussions? Does mutual combat extend to groups, or should it be reserved for individual fights? How can a mass shooting in a neighborhood be defined as mutual combat? How can it apply to individual fights where there is clearly not a level playing field? There is no good reason to turn a blind eye to these events.
Criminal violence should never be excused, regardless of pretense. We hope you found this article educational and we look forward to sharing more with you in the next blog.
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