How Chicago police ‘clear’ homicide cases even when no one is charged

Data pix.

CHICAGO — The homicide clearance rate in Chicago this year is 48 percent.

But a deeper look at the numbers reveals that rate includes dozens of cases where no one was charged.

The killing of 19-year-old Brandon Delgado is included in that number.

He was shot and killed inside a Logan Square apartment last April. Police say the ex-boyfriend of the woman – a reputed gang member known as “Genocide” - was “positively identified by witnesses as the offender.”

Detectives even had him in custody. But prosecutors declined to press charges in part because of “defendant’s claim of self-defense.”

Delgado’s mother says she’s never believed that theory, even though witness claims her son shot back after he was wounded.

“They went there with the intent to hurt my son,” says Annette Delgado. “Not knowing him. They went in there to hurt my son. That’s not self-defense.”

No one’s been charged in Delgado’s death and police are no longer investigating.

They’ve marked the case CCX, or “closed – cleared exceptionally.”

That means police believe they identified the offender but because prosecutors declined to bring charges, they’ve closed the case.

“If prosecutors don’t want to prosecute for whatever reason, then, yes, it does get the CCX stamp,” says Deputy Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan. “Obviously, [detectives] want it charged but their ultimate goal is and the direction they get from us is clear the case. If the state’s attorney doesn’t want to prosecute, you’ve still done your job. Even though the person didn’t get to see their day in court."

WGN Investigates has learned that’s happening “more” often.

There were 83 cases closed this year without prosecution – the highest level in at least five years.

In a recent interview, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said prosecutors face the burden of having to prove the case in court.

“We have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person we charged is the person who committed the crime,” she says. “And sometimes what you may find is they identified someone and they’re sure this is person. The question we have to ask is: Can we prove it?”

It’s worth noting: The way Chicago police classify these cases as closed is not unique. The “closed – cleared exceptionally” designation is widely used by law enforcement agencies, including the FBI – so long as certain criteria are met.

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