- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - A man who shot and killed a Chicago police officer as a teenager in the 1970s has been freed from prison, and some officers and the victim’s daughter are upset.

According to the Chicago Tribune (https://trib.in/1FIwVdm ), a parole board voted Thursday to release 58-year-old Joseph Bigsby from the Danville Correctional Center. He left the eastern Illinois prison that night.

Bigsby was 16 in 1973 when he killed officer Edward Barron. Barron and fellow Officer Daniel Abate were chasing him following the robbery of an elderly man.

The now-retired Abate had been attending Bigsby’s parole hearings for more than three decades. Abate said in recent years the number of board members voting to release Bigsby had grown.

On Thursday in Springfield, at Bigsby’s 28th hearing, the vote was 8-6 to set him free.

“It’s a shame. It’s a travesty,” said Abate, who is 73 and lives in Bridgeport.

He and 50 other officers attended the hearing.

But one member of the board who voted for freeing Bigsby, former Champaign police officer Donald Shelton, said that while the decision was difficult, Bigsby deserved to be released.

“This was a 16-year-old boy who, for whatever reason, was being an idiot like a lot of 16-year-old boys and it went way south,” Shelton said, adding that Bigsby had been a model prisoner. “I was very conflicted that he shot a police officer and he died.”

The robbery on Sept. 28, 1973, was over 55 cents. The victim was walking his dog when someone put a gun to his chest and took the money, according to reports from the time.

Bigsby shot Barron during the chase that followed.

“When he did that, I shot him in the leg,” Abate said. “And I said to my partner, ‘I got that SOB’…I turned and repeated that and my partner was lying on the ground.”

Barron, a 36-year-old married father, was hit in the head and died of his injuries.

Bigsby was paroled to Maryland, where he will live with a sister and be on electronic monitoring for at least six months, according to the review board.

Barron’s daughter, 54-year-old Linda Flanagan, said she will now always be nervous that Bigsby is free.

Flanagan said the family left Chicago for Tennessee after her father died.

“It’s hard for us to even go to Chicago,” she said. “Sad memories. Our heart is not there anymore. It took a toll on the family.”


Information from: Chicago Tribune, https://www.chicagotribune.com

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