“My heart dropped:” Accused cop killer’s previous victim

WGN Investigates Exclusive

CHICAGO -- Two decades before Shomari Legghette was accused of fatally shooting Cmdr. Paul Bauer, he was a convicted armed robber.

Mike Bullington was the victim of an armed robbery committed by Legghette. When he saw his photo pop up on TV, those thoughts came rushing back.

“My heart dropped.  I felt, ‘Oh my God, how could this be?’” he said.

Bullington and his wife were newlyweds. They left their Forest Park home for work on a cold November morning in 1998. That’s when Legghette and a partner nicknamed “Trouble” robbed the two at gunpoint.

Court records obtained by WGN Investigates called the robbery a “vicious and brutal early morning heist.”

Legghette is said to have had his “hand inside his jacket pointed toward [the victim] as if he had a gun.” His partner did.

They led police on a “high speed chase” that ended in Orland Park.

“The state’s attorney that did the prosecution told me, ‘This is a bad guy, he’s been doing this for a long time,’” Bullington said.

Legghette's rap sheet starts in 1997 with drug possession

The Forest Park armed robbery happened the next year. A judge gave him a relatively stiff sentence of 16 years. But he was out in less than ten.

There were more weapon and drug charges, back to prison, parole for resisting an officer and battery.

In 2015, he has another stint in prison on drug charges.

Bullington is angry at the revolving door of the criminal justice system, and angry it may have led to the killing of a beloved cop.

“Sometimes it’s a way of life for these people and they should be able to pick them out and say ‘we can’t put you back on the street until you’re completely rehabilitated,’” he said.

Now, as a city mourns the loss of Commander Paul Bauer, Bullington is once again thinking about all that he lost to Legghette.

“It impacted both of us pretty hard because she didn’t want to live here no more. She didn’t feel safe here. We went to counseling for a couple of months and she just could not get over it. We ended up in a divorce less than a year and a half later,” he said.

Bullington said his heart hurts for Cmdr. Bauer’s family. He said 20 years ago, he chose to testify against Legghette with the hope it would bring a longer prison sentence—and it did. But it was not long enough to stop another decade of crime.