Video: Chicago officers fatally shoot armed, fleeing man
It's unclear what led up to the shooting of Anthony Alvarez
By Jeremy Gorner, Annie Sweeney, Megan Crepeau and Gregory Pratt
CHICAGO — Video of the fatal police shooting of 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez was released Wednesday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
Alvarez was killed during the early morning hours of March 31 near Eddy Street and Laramie Avenue in the Portage Park community. He died of multiple gunshot wounds in the shooting, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
The video released Wednesday does capture the shooting itself. On the police body-camera footage released by COPA, officers can be seen running down an alley at first, then bear down on Alvarez as they turn a corner onto a small lawn.
In a frame-by-frame viewing of the shooting, one officer can be seen raising his gun as Alvarez tries to move away. Alvarez appears to be carrying a pistol-shaped object in his right hand and a cellphone in the other, with the phone’s glowing screen visible.
The officer can be seen gaining ground and firing about five times as Alvarez begins to stagger with his back and side turned toward the officer. The video does not appear to show Alvarez pointing what police have said was a gun.
After he is struck, Alvarez is seen falling to the ground near stairs to a house and moaning in pain. Alvarez says to the officers, “Why are you shooting me?” And an officer replies, “Because you had a gun!”
Police have said they recovered a pistol at the scene. Third-party camera footage that seems to be from a security camera from the home Alvarez was shot in front of shows him release what appears to be an object shaped like a gun as he falls to the ground.
Footage from that camera shows a high-angle view of the shooting: Alvarez runs into frame, stumbling twice as the officer gains ground on him. The video is clear enough to see the muzzle flash from the officer’s gun as he fires.
It was not immediately clear what touched off the foot chase. The officer who fired is identified in the COPA materials as Evan Solano, 29, who has been with the department for five years.
Minutes before the shooting, security footage overlooking a gas station shows Alvarez walking through its lot briefly with what appears to be a plastic bag, the COPA videos show. He can be seen running and dropping the bag as an unmarked police SUV, with its emergency lights flashing, begins moving toward him.
Another third-party camera shows Alvarez running from the gas station onto a sidewalk while the police SUV follows him on the street. Alvarez then can be seen making his way into the alley where footage captured the ensuing foot pursuit.
Authorities have not released exactly where on Alvarez’s body he was struck by the shots. But Alvarez’s pants were bloodied after the shooting, and an officer can be seen on the videos applying a tourniquet to his right leg.
After the shooting, the officer who shot Alvarez rushed to guard the apparent gun on the ground while his partner tries to give Alvarez first aid.
“Offender’s down, weapon’s on scene,” the shooting officer can be heard telling a dispatcher. He requested an ambulance but gave an incorrect address — saying they were on Dakin Street, not Eddy. Twice, he and his partner tried to wave down passing squad cars that apparently did not notice them in the front yard.
“Watch the gun, watch the gun,” he instructs his partner while he started chest compressions on Alvarez.
As more police arrive, others take over the first aid, and the officer who fired shots can be seeing walking around the yard.
“I don’t think he shot at me, did he?” he said in a dazed voice. “I — I — I — I shot somebody, right here.”
Officers can be seen surrounding Alvarez as the CPR continued.
“Hang in there, dude, hang in there,” one officer said. “Hang in there, dude, hang in there.”
On Wednesday, COPA spokesman Ephraim Eaddy said the agency has recommended to the Chicago Police Department that the officer who shot and killed Alvarez be relieved of his police powers pending COPA’s investigation. This would mean the officer would be placed on paid desk duty without the ability to carry a badge or a gun for work purposes.
At a news conference after the video’s release, Chicago police Superintendent David Brown said the officer had been placed on 30-day standard leave. When asked his reaction to the recommendation by COPA that the officer be relieved of police powers, Brown said he had not been told that.
“I have not heard that from COPA,” he said.
Brown also refused to comment on why Alvarez was stopped in the first place. He emphasized the need to not sway the investigation, because of his role in deciding punishment. “It’s really important as the final decision maker (that) I withhold opinions,” he said.
Brown provided an update on the formulation of a foot-pursuit policy for CPD, saying he has a draft of one and the department was continuing to gather information from other cities, as well as input from officers and the community and will be working with the monitor who is overseeing federal court-ordered reform of the department to complete a policy.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for a new policy in the wake of the recent shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Little Village, which took place after an officer pursued the teen on foot. Brown noted the importance of finding the best practice and standard in place, noting not only the sense of urgency created by the Toledo and Alvarez shootings, but the general danger foot pursuits present to officers, the public and “offenders fleeing.”
“We are obviously proceeding with a sense of urgency,” he said. “It really important for us to get it right.”
Lightfoot released a statement with Alvarez’s lawyers earlier Wednesday calling for only peaceful protests once the video was released showing video of police killing the 22-year-old.
“Both parties are acutely aware of the range of emotions that will accompany the release of these materials, and we collectively issue this statement and ask that those who wish to express themselves do so peacefully and with respect for our communities and the residents of Chicago,” Lightfoot said. “COPA’s investigation is ongoing, and both parties expect and have the utmost confidence that officials will determine the complete and unbiased set of facts in this case.”
Mayor issues statement with family of 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez, saying ‘range of emotions’ will come with release of video of his fatal shooting by Chicago police »
The statement mirrors one sent by Lightfoot and the lawyers for Toledo’s family earlier this month as COPA prepared to release video of that police shooting.
Alvarez was shot and killed as he ran away from police on the Northwest Side late last month, a lawyer for the man’s family told reporters late Tuesday after they viewed video of the man’s death.
Todd Pugh, who is representing the Alvarez family, said the fatal shooting of the young father has left his family “with more questions than answers.”
“But I know what I saw,” Pugh told a gaggle of reporters. “And I saw a Chicago police officer shoot their son as he ran away from them.”
Pugh saw the video of Alvarez’s shooting with the man’s family at COPA offices.
In the hours following the shooting, police said Alvarez was armed with a handgun while running away from police before an officer opened fire on him. Police have not said whether Alvarez pointed a gun or fired shots, but a police spokesman has tweeted a photo of a firearm he said was found at the scene.
Pugh said Alvarez on the video can be heard to ask officers why he had been shot.
The Alvarez case isn’t the first one Pugh was has been involved in where video was key evidence in an investigation into an officer fatally shooting someone. Pugh represented one of three Chicago cops acquitted in a trial related to cover-up allegations in the killing of Laquan McDonald, whose death was captured on a squad car dashcam in 2014.
On Tuesday, Pugh wouldn’t go into great detail about the Alvarez video footage but said it was “chilling, it was disturbing.” Pugh said the footage he viewed doesn’t show where on the body Alvarez was shot.
Alvarez’s mother said the videos the family saw didn’t resemble Alvarez her son but rather showed a “person anonymous.”
“How many shots were given to him?” Alvarez’s mother, Veronica Alvarez, said through a translator. “To this day, I have no answers. I still want (to know) as to just why they were chasing my son.”
On Tuesday, more than 1,000 Chicago police officers from roving citywide units and district tactical teams had their days off canceled until further notice, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the department’s plans. The source also said the officers would be concentrating on protecting retail areas in the city.
At an unrelated news conference, Lightfoot reiterated her call for peace and commented on the video.
“We can’t live in a world where a minor traffic offense results in someone being shot and killed,” Lightfoot said. “That’s not acceptable to me and it shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone.”
Lightfoot said the family viewed all the videos yesterday afternoon and COPA plans to release those videos later this morning. She said it’s being investigated by COPA and the State’s Attorney, which is routine.
Noting it involved a foot chase, Lightfoot said the department is working on a policy involving those pursuits.
“It’s unacceptable that a minor traffic offense resulted in death,” Lightfoot repeated.
The mayor also encouraged people to look at the video in slow motion as well as in real-time to get a full understanding of what it shows.
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