CHICAGO (CBS) – A Chicago police officer and a sergeant both face felony charges after Cook County prosecutors said they shot an unarmed man in July in Pilsen.
Chicago police had previously described the July 22 incident at 18th Street and Morgan’s as a shooting, but Cook State Attorney Kim Foxx on Friday said the two officers charged were the first to open fire. and there was no justification for shooting on the 23rd. -the old man was shot.
This case was overturned by surveillance video.
Chicago Police Sgt. Christopher Liakopoulos, 43, and Officer Ruben Reynoso, 42, each face aggravated battery crime with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a gun and official misconduct.
Their bail is set at $25,000 each, which means they have to be $2,500 to get bail. Both Liakopoulos and Reynoso were released from prison Friday night.
Both have also been ordered to surrender their guns and Gun Owner Identification Cards.
Both officers were assigned to the Large Accident Investigation Unit, and have had their police powers removed. They turned on Thursday night. Foxx said it faces 30 years in prison if convicted.
Just before 7 a.m. on July 22, two officers from the Major Accident Investigation Unit were driving to the police academy for training when they spotted a group of four people wearing masks and loitering around, police said. outside a closed store near 18th and Morgan Streets. .
When one of the officers identified himself as a law enforcement officer, one of the group pulled out a gun and started shooting, prompting officers to return fire, police said.
“They were masked, obviously armed, and once our officer identified himself as a police officer, they started pulling out guns and shooting at our officers, trying to kill them,” the police said. close to Supt. David Brown said at the time.
After the initial exchange of gunfire, the officers got out of their cars, and the gunman fled, continuing to shoot at the officers, police said.
However, Foxx said a review of the evidence in the case contradicted the officers’ claims, and showed that Liakopoulos and Reynoso opened fire first.
“The officers involved in this incident did not take any provocation or justification to shoot the unarmed victim in this incident. The evidence does not support the use of deadly force in connection with the shooting. unarmed and illegal,” Foxx said. “We cannot ignore or stand before unprovoked acts of violence, even with the help of those who have sworn to serve and protect our community.”
At the officers’ bond hearing Friday afternoon, Assistant State Attorney Alyssa Janicki said that after Liakopoulos and Reynoso stopped to question a group of men they spotted outside several closed business almost 18 years old and Morgan to ask what they do there, 23 years. -The old man and a minor started walking towards the passenger of the officer’s unmarked team car.
While the minor wore a holster on his chest with a gun, the 23-year-old was unarmed; According to Janicki, the other hand holds a cell phone and a bottle of wine, the other does not.
After approaching the officer’s car, the young man turned to run away, while the 23-year-old man pointed to the officers. That’s when both Reynoso and Liakopoulos pointed their guns to the passenger’s side window and started shooting, Janicki said.
The 23-year-old was shot in the back and leg and fell to the ground, according to Janicki. The juvenile continued to run east on 18th Street, before firing several times at the officers, who fired several more.
According to Janicki, a pedestrian who was walking behind the minor at the time suffered a graze wound. Neither the minor nor the officers were injured.
Prosecutors said the 23-year-old man who was shot was unarmed and had never fired any shots at police.
“The victim, who was shot and injured in this incident, was not in possession of a weapon, nor did the victim use a weapon to shoot at these two officers,” Foxx said.
That 23-year-old, Miguel Medina, filed a federal lawsuit against the city and Liakopoulos.
“The officers involved in this incident, there was no provocation or justification to shoot the unarmed victim in this incident,” Foxx said.
In interviews with detectives on the day of the shooting, officers told detectives that they only opened fire after a minor shot at them, according to Janicki. The next day, in an interview with both prosecutors and detectives, they said they didn’t know who fired first, but said the minor had pointed a gun at them before firing any shots.
Days later, video evidence obtained during the investigation contradicted officers’ accounts, showing the 23-year-old man standing in the street near the passenger’s side window open, with both hands and juveniles are on the run. vehicle when the officers started shooting.
Defense attorneys countered prosecutors’ account of the shooting, saying the 23-year-old man pointed his finger at officers as both he and the minor were walking toward the vehicle, and It is not clear who fired first.
“It’s unclear who fired first… but it doesn’t matter if he points the gun at him,” Reynoso’s defense attorney Brian Sexton said.
Sexton also accused prosecutors of moving too quickly to file charges before the Police’s Office of Civil Accountability had even completed a review of the case.
Sexton said: “Bang jumped on the shark.
According to Foxx, the officers involved did not have full-body cameras. Video evidence in the case came from surveillance cameras near the scene.
Sexton said he wanted a protective order preventing COPA from releasing that video so the jury team wouldn’t be contaminated.
Foxx said an investigation is still open involving the minor, who has not been charged.
The Civil Police Accountability Office is also investigating officers’ use of force, but has yet to release any findings.
Liakopoulos has been a Chicago police officer for 21 years. During that time, he had 10 complaints filed against him, but nothing was proven – and he was never disciplined.
Reynoso has been in the force for 19 years. He has had four complaints filed against him, and like his counterpart, nothing has been proven.
The video at the heart of this incident is expected to be released by COPA early next week.