Prosecutors in Chicago have charged an Amtrak police officer with first degree murder after the killing of an unarmed Minneapolis man earlier this month. Layroyce Tankson, 31, was released after posting 10 percent of a $250,000 bond.
According to Cook County prosecutors, Tankson murdered Chad Robertson, 25, on Feb. 8 at around 8:40 pm local time, after a second interaction between the two men on the same night. Robertson was in Chicago on a busy layover and was headed back to the Twin Cities from Memphis, Tennessee.
Prosecutors say Tankson and Robertson first made contact when the officer and a partner observed Robertson and two other individuals smoking marijuana outside the Amtrak train station in downtown Chicago. The men apologized and went about their way. But later on there was a second contact. This time as Tankson and other officers attempted to pat-down the three suspects, Robertson ran.
According to prosecutors when Robertson was about 75 to 100 feet away from the officers, Tankson un-holstered his weapon, dropped to a knee in a firing position, and fired one shot, which stuck Robertson in the shoulder and lodged in his neck. He died eight days later at a Chicago hospital.
Assistant States Attorney Ahmed Kosoko had asked for no bond. But Cook County Judge Maria Ciesil disagreed. The low bond, which Tankson paid within hours, upset his family, many of whom have been in Chicago since Robertson was first shot.
“That’s ridiculous — it should have been millions,” said a visibly disgusted Leroy Taylor, Robertson’s father after the bond hearing. Tankson, a married father of three, served as an engineer for eight years before becoming an Amtrak cop in 2015.
The case is being investigated by the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office; both entities are under new leadership since a number of high-profile cases in Chicago where police have shot unarmed Black men.
Last month, former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was in Chicago to announce the results of a federal probe into the Chicago Police Department. The scathing report said officers often violated the Fourth Amendment rights of individuals, the officers lacked training and there was a pervasive culture of cover-ups from officers involving police shootings.
Prosecutors said according to the four witnesses at the scene, none of them ever saw Robertson with a weapon or reach for a weapon. They added that by Robertson running away he was never a threat to anyone.
Tankson was shielded from reporters by a line of Chicago police officers as he was escorted to a waiting vehicle after posting bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 9.
Jason Palmer lives in Dakota County.