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Shootings of Officers Are Proof of 'Broken' Sentencing System, Police Say

By  Alex Nitkin and Erica Demarest | March 23, 2016 4:45pm | Updated on March 23, 2016 5:52pm

 Bureau of Detectives Chief Gene Roy announced charges filed against Samuel Harviley, who allegedly shot an off-duty officer Monday after trying to rob him.
Bureau of Detectives Chief Gene Roy announced charges filed against Samuel Harviley, who allegedly shot an off-duty officer Monday after trying to rob him.
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DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin / Chicago Police Department

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A recent string of officer shootings indicate a "broken system" that lets violent criminals off too easy, senior police officials said Wednesday.

Police at a news conference pointed to Samuel Harviley, the 25-year-old man accused of shooting an off-duty officer on the Far South Side Monday.

Harviley was released on parole in December for a 2012 aggravated carjacking conviction, records show. He'd been sentenced in September 2012 to nine years in prison and credited with serving 424 days in jail awaiting trial. Police claim Monday's shooting could've been avoided if Harviley was still behind bars.

The shooting happened about 2:30 a.m. Monday in the 10100 block of South Green Street, prosecutors said.

A 48-year-old off-duty officer was sitting alone in his car when Harviley and an accomplice, who has yet to be charged, tried to rob him at gunpoint, according to Assistant State's Attorney Jaime Santini, who spoke during a bond hearing Wednesday.

The officer was on his way home from studying for a detective's exam, police said. He was not in uniform, but was carrying a gun.

Harviley and his accomplice opened a car door, grabbed the man's keys and threw them to the ground, Santini said. The pair then ordered the officer out of his car and onto the ground, where they allegedly took his cellphone and wallet.

The officer was ordered to lie still on the ground, prosecutors said, but continued to move. That's when Harviley shot the officer — sending a bullet through the man's leg and buttocks, Santini said.

At that point, Harviley and his accomplice allegedly took off running. The officer was able to pull his own gun and fire toward the fleeing men, striking Harviley once in his left arm, prosecutors said.

The alleged robbers continued to run away, according to Santini, and the officer called 911. He was treated at a nearby hospital.

Roughly 12 minutes after the shooting, Harviley arrived at Little Company Mary Hospital, where he gave a fake name, prosecutors said. Police were called, and Harviley was later identified in a photo array.

After police arrested Harviley about 4:30 a.m. Monday, he confessed to trying to rob the officer, prosecutors said. He allegedly admitted that "the gun he was holding went off," striking the officer, and that he and the accomplice met a third person in a getaway car.

Bureau of Patrol Chief Eddie Johnson on Wednesday called the shooting "the latest in a string of violent attacks against police" that are "indicative of a larger issue."

Johnson drew a link to the man who allegedly shot and wounded three officers during a drug investigation last week. That man, Lamar Harris, had a rap sheet tallying 43 arrests and seven convictions, all leading to his March 14 death at the hands of police.

If repeat offenders like Harviley and Harris had been sentenced more harshly, he said, four officers could have avoided being shot.

"The criminal justice system in Chicago, as it is in the rest of the state of Illinois, is broken," Johnson said. "In the absence of stronger laws for repeat offenders, it fails to hold these individuals accountable and allows them to bring ... violent acts into our neighborhoods."

Harviley, of the 9000 block of South May Street, is charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and armed robbery.

Cook County Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. on Wednesday ordered Harviley held without bail, calling him "a danger to the rest of us."

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