Chicago officers, who opened fire from an unmarked car last summer, will face criminal charges after new video of the incident emerged
Chicago, Ill. – Tuesday’s release of surveillance footage shows two Chicago police officers opening fire from an unmarked vehicle in July, resulting in criminal charges for both officers.
The footage is among the data and records disclosed by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability as it investigates the July 22 shooting in Pilsen that injured two unarmed individuals.
The release occurs four days after Sgt. Christopher Liakopoulos and Officer Ruben Reynoso were charged with felony offenses, and just one day after a Cook County judge denied COPA’s request to prevent the videos from being made public.
The lone footage of the incident depicts the police’ gray Ford Fusion reversing on a sidewalk in the 1000 block of West 18th Street as a gathering of individuals stands nearby.
Two members of the gang then move into the street approaching the automobile, and Miguel Medina raises his hand toward the officers.
Medina is shot and knocked to the ground nearly instantly. Reynoso and Liakopoulos then exit the vehicle and begin firing at someone out of view – a 17-year-old youth who, according to the prosecution, fled and began firing at the police.
Reynoso stays beside the car while Medina lies on the street as Liakopoulos pursues. Both officers do not appear to be administering aid.
As two officers stand by Medina, one person appears to check on him, followed by a second individual who hurries up to him. Shortly after three police SUVs and a firetruck arrive and a crowd forms around Medina, the video concludes.
The video is silent. Other cameras, however, catch the sound of gunfire and the initial distress call that was relayed over police radio.
“Hey, do you need medical?” Later, one person is heard speaking while another person cries out in the background. “Are you in need of first aid?”
According to the incident report provided in the statement, Medina, 23, was shot in the lower back and right leg. According to the arrest report, he was arrested for severe assault on a police officer, but was ultimately freed due to inadequate evidence.
Medina stated through phone last week that the officers “shot me for no cause.” Once the footage is published, it will reveal what occurred.” Attorneys for Medina have reportedly filed a federal complaint alleging unlawful arrest and excessive force.
As the 17-year-old is a minor, COPA spokesman Ephraim Eaddy stated that the agency will not release a video featuring him. The attorneys for the cops unsuccessfully attempted to prevent COPA from releasing any information, alleging that the release would reveal only “half” of the incident.
The footage is essential to the case against the cops and apparently contradicts the initial narrative presented by police leadership.
David Brown, superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, initially told reporters that a shooter “fired first.” On Monday, he agreed with the office of the state’s attorney that video footage refuted the initial assertion that “there was an initial exchange of gunfire.”
On account of allegations of aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm, and official misconduct, Liakopoulos, 43, and Reynoso, 42, each face a maximum of 30 years in prison. They were released on bond and deprived of their police powers on Friday.
State’s Attorney Kim Foxx stated at a press conference last Friday announcing the charges that the video proves the police lied when they claimed they fired back after being fired upon.
In tactical response reports made public on Tuesday, both cops falsely asserted this.
Both checked boxes indicate that a “criminal” fired the initial shot. Liakopoulos also indicated in his report that they were “ambushed without warning.”
During their bail hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney Alyssa Janicki stated that the cops were going to a training session when they stopped to examine a group of persons while in plainclothes and assigned to the Major Accidents Unit. Neither was equipped with a body-mounted camera.
According to Janicki, Medina and the youngster, who was carrying a backpack across his chest, approached the cops, with Medina holding a wine bottle and a cellphone in one hand.
Janicki stated that as Medina was standing on the passenger side of the police car and displaying his hands, Reynoso pointed a revolver from the window. Liakopoulos also drew his weapon, leaning across Reynoso as they both opened fire on Media, leaving him gravely injured.
Janicki stated that the 17-year-old fled, retrieved a revolver from his luggage, and opened fire on the officers, who responded with gunfire.
A document released by COPA reveals additional information regarding a bystander injured during the conflict. The 36-year-old guy stated that he and his friend were heading back from the gym on 18th Street when they observed three males on the opposite side of the street, one of them was brandishing a bottle, before shooting erupted.
As he and his friend fled, he was shot in the leg and fainted, according to the report. Someone passing by volunteered to drive him to a residence. His friend then transported him and his wife to the Rush University Medical Center.
Janicki stated that when police sought to prosecute the youngster with attempted murder, both Liakopoulos and Reynoso claimed he fired the first shot. However, in a subsequent interview with the office of the state’s attorney, the cops stated that they did not know who fired first, but that the young man pointed a gun at them before they fired at Medina.
Brian Sexton, Reynoso’s attorney, said that during the exchange of gunfire, Reynoso was focused on the 17-year-old with the gun and never fired at Medina.
Regarding his client’s contradictory assertions, Sexton contended that he had a faulty recollection of the “traumatic, stressful episode.” Sexton claimed that once Reynoso viewed the footage, he told COPA and the state’s attorney’s office that he “simply didn’t remember” the shooting.
Foxx stated on Friday that the case was still under investigation despite Sexton’s claim that the boy’s accusations had been “dropped.”
Tim Grace, who represented Liakopoulos, asked the court to consider whether the officers’ actions were “objectively justified.” Grace observed that the officers were on duty when they were “confronted by an armed assailant who points a gun at them and shoots at them.”
Grace stated, “We don’t utilize 20/20 hindsight, we don’t speculate, and we don’t slow down video like the district attorney’s office does.”
He anticipated that COPA would only release “half the film,” implying that the agency would not share surveillance footage of the 17-year-old shooting a gun. He urged Judge Maryam Ahmad to halt the release, but she sent his plea to Judge Mary Marubio for a hearing on Monday.
The attorneys worried that the inadequate video could prejudice potential jurors. While the footage would depict the officers opening fire, it would not depict the youngster “falling into a two-point stance and firing at two police officers,” according to Sexton.
However, Marubio declined to keep the footage secret.