Wortham v. Ed’s Pawn Shop | Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Wortham v. Ed’s Pawn Shop

Officer Thomas Wortham IV was shot and killed outside his parents’ home in the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago on May 19, 2010. A group of gang members accosted him as he approached his motorcycle, demanded he turn over the vehicle, and shot and killed him when he drew his service weapon and identified himself as an officer.

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. On April 24, 2013, the Brady Center filed a suit against the dealer for Officer Wortham’s parents, alleging that the store knew or should have known of the straw purchase taking place, because of the purchaser’s payment in cash, his purchase of multiple handguns, and the fact that the purchase was his first visit to the store.

Ed’s settled the case with the Wortham family on April 23, 2014. In addition to a confidential monetary settlement, 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 a person buys more than one handgun in a thirty-day period. Officer Wortham’s father, retired Chicago police officer Thomas Wortham III, accurately told a local news station, “If all gun dealers did this, it would stop the proliferation of guns in Chicago, and throughout the country.”