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Wortham v. Ed's Pawn Shop

Case Status: Closed

Victory on Behalf of Family of Chicago Police Officer Murdered After Straw Purchase

Background

On May 19, 2012, Officer Thomas Wortham IV died just outside his parents’ home in Chicago. A group of gang members had accosted him as he approached his motorcycle. They demanded he would turn over the vehicle. When he drew his service weapon and identified himself as an officer, they shot and killed him.


The gun used to kill Officer Wortham — a .45 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol — was sold to a straw purchaser who bought three guns for a trafficker at Ed’s Pawn Shop in Byhalia, Mississippi. The store knew — or should have known — that there was an illegal purchase taking place: the buyer paid in cash, he purchased multiple handguns, and the purchase occurred during his first visit to Ed’s Pawn Shop.

Lawsuit

Brady secured an extraordinary achievement when it settled with Ed’s Pawn Shop in April 2014. In addition to a monetary settlement, Brady was able to get Ed’s Pawn Shop to agree to change its practices. The store agreed to videotape all handgun purchases and retain the videos for three years, and to notify local and federal law enforcement any time someone purchases more than one handgun in thirty days.

Of these measurements, Officer Wortham’s father, retired Chicago police officer Thomas Wortham III, commented: “If all gun dealers did this, it would stop the proliferation of guns in Chicago, and throughout the country.”

straw purchases
gun trafficking
urban gun violence

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