A former Orr Academy High School basketball star was defending himself when he shot and killed a man who chased him with others and ran away with his dog in Pilsen, the college athlete’s defense attorney said Monday.
There were several “armed robbers” who went after Raekwon Drake Saturday, so it is “ludicrous” that Cook County prosecutors think they have enough evidence to convict the 22-year-old with murder, Drake’s lawyer Frank Himel said.
However, prosecutors had earlier pointed out that the victim, 26-year-old Martin Palafox, let the dog go before Drake and his girlfriend repeatedly beat Palafox as he was lying on the ground.
Drake finished off the attack by shooting Palafox in the head, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.
While Judge Charles Beach said he understood the theft of a pet could be traumatic, he said it was “curious and perhaps odd” that Drake left his dog outside to be snatched while he presumably went inside to retrieve his gun.
Drake, who was shot in the leg during the incident, remained hospitalized at Stroger Hospital and did not appear at his bond hearing Monday where Beach ordered him held without bail.
Drake had joined Post University men’s basketball program after transferring from Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, the Waterbury, Connecticut school had tweeted.
He planned to play at Post this upcoming season, Orr basketball coach Lou Adams told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Drake was walking his dog near his apartment around 6 p.m. when a group of approximately three men started to chase him around the block, Murphy said.
Drake eventually ran into his apartment, leaving the dog outside. The group of men went on to take the pet and started to walk down the street in the 1800 block of South Paulina Street before Drake came back outside with a gun and fired approximately four shots in their direction, Murphy said.
No one was injured at that point.
Palafox, who had been holding the dog, dropped the animal as he attempted to run away. But Drake’s girlfriend allegedly began punching and kicking him while he was on the ground. Drake joined her, hitting and kicking Palafox before shooting him as Palafox remained on the ground with his hands in the air, Murphy said.
When Drake and his girlfriend tried to run away, one of the other men from Palafox’s group fired back, striking the couple, Murphy said.
Palafox, of Joliet, was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Drake’s girlfriend was hit in the right shoulder and also taken to Stroger Hospital, where she was listed in good condition, authorities said.
Prosecutors didn’t mention in court Monday whether Drake’s girlfriend would be facing charges.
The entire incident was captured on various video surveillance cameras on the block, Murphy said.
A handgun was recovered from the window well of Drake’s apartment when a search warrant was executed, Murphy added.
Himel stressed that his client has no criminal history and is “not someone that’s predisposed to this type of conduct.”
“Certainly there’s a chance he can be found guilty of first-degree murder but more likely there’s a chance he could be found guilty of a lesser offense,” Himel said. “… And more likely than that, there’s going to be 12 people [in a jurors box] that are going to say, ‘At gunpoint, you tried to steal my dog from me, and so you getting shot is justified.’”
A 2018 graduate of Orr, Drake was a three-time Sun-Times All-Area basketball selection. To put that in perspective, current Los Angeles Laker and Simeon graduate Talen Horton-Tucker made the team once and former Morgan Park and Illinois star Ayo Dosunmu made it twice.
Drake led the Spartans to Class 2A state basketball championships in 2017 and 2018, which began a streak of four consecutive state titles for Orr. The 2017 Spartans were featured in Rick Telander’s award-winning series ”A season under the gun.”
Adams said he’s known Drake since he was in eighth grade and still talks to him two or three times a week.
“I know the kind of heart he has. He takes care of his grandmother. I don’t know what happened with this situation but he’s a good kid,” Adams said.
Drake is expected back in court July 30.