Ex-CPD Officer Avoids Prison Time Following Off-Duty Shooting Incident

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

A former Chicago police officer avoided a prison sentence Wednesday after pleading guilty to an off-duty shooting incident.

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A Cook County judge sentenced Joseph Cabrera to 24 months probation after he entered a plea on a charge of recklessly discharging a firearm. He had previously faced other serious charges, including attempted murder and making a false statement.

In a statement, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office on Wednesday said that following “a thorough review of the case, we concluded that the totality of the evidence was insufficient to meet our burden of proof” on the charges of attempted murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm.

During a 2021 bond hearing, Cook County prosecutors said the 22-year-old victim and a 21-year-old woman drove to the woman’s home in the 5200 block of South Monitor Avenue around 10 p.m. on Oct. 13, 2020, and parked about a block away.

As they were seated in their car, Cabrera parked behind them in his personal vehicle and approached them, asking if they were OK or needed an ambulance. Prosecutors said the two were confused by the request and declined help, before circling the block because they felt uncomfortable.

They parked a second time, this time in the 5800 block of West 52nd Street, but were soon approached again by Cabrera, who allegedly got out of his car and began yelling at the pair to leave.

The victim got out of his car, and an argument ensued before Cabrera allegedly grabbed the victim by the neck. Prosecutors said the victim then punched Cabrera on the top of the head before Cabrera grabbed his Glock handgun and fired a round at the victim’s legs; he missed.

The victim and woman ran from the scene on foot, and Cabrera called 911, telling them that he had fired his gun, according to prosecutors. But Cabrera also allegedly lied, saying that he had been attacked and knocked to the ground before he fired the shot.

Prosecutors said Cabrera’s claim was refuted by the victim and the woman, as well as another witness who was walking her dog in the area.

A lawsuit later filed by the victim alleged Cabrera was visibly intoxicated and smelled of alcohol during the incident, and when his blood alcohol level was tested four hours later, he was still legally drunk.

In addition to probation, Cabrera was also ordered to complete 50 hours of community service and must undergo drug and alcohol evaluations.

According to the State’s Attorney’s Office, Cabrera’s guilty plea “automatically decertifies him as a law enforcement officer,” though the Chicago Sun-Times reported he is no longer a member of the Chicago Police Department.

“The court accepted the defendant’s plea as a resolution to the case,” the State’s Attorney’s Office said in its statement.

Heather Cherone contributed to this report.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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