2 Chicago police officers face felony charges in connection with the July shooting of an unarmed man




CNN

Two Chicago police officers have been charged with three felonies each in the July on-duty shooting of an unarmed man, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said Friday.

The case against them turned on video surveillance, contradicting their statements to investigators about what happened in Pilsen, on the city’s Lower West Side.

Sgt. Christopher Liakopoulos, 43, and Officer Ruben Reynoso, 42, are charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm and official misconduct, which carry up to 30 years in prison, Foxx said.

Liakopoulos and Reynoso, who have been stripped of their police powers, returned Thursday afternoon, Foxx said. They appeared at a bond hearing Friday and were ordered to post $25,000 bail and surrender their weapons, according to Foxx.

The man who was shot did not have a weapon, nor did he fire a weapon at the two officers, Foxx said.

According to Foxx, the 23-year-old victim suffered injuries and “has since recovered and is cooperating with authorities.”

The victim, Miguel Medina, filed a federal lawsuit Friday against Liakopoulos and the city of Chicago.

His lawyer, Gregory Kulis, said outside court that his client is “clearly innocent” of a crime. Medina was not a threat to officers when he was shot twice in the back and once in the leg, he said. A four-count indictment was filed against the officer believed to have shot Medina, he said.

Kulis said his client was taken to the hospital for his injuries, but was taken in by police for questioning within hours. The attorney said after he was released without charge, Medina was in pain and bleeding and returned to the hospital.

Chicago’s city government did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on Medina’s lawsuit.

During their investigation, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office reviewed surveillance video, “and based on that review of all the evidence, including that video, it is our position that the officers involved, based on the facts, the evidence and the law, were unprovoked or justified in this incident in being unarmed.” to shoot the victim,” Foxx said.

Both’s statements to investigators were “directly contradicted” by the videotape evidence. According to the state attorney, the video, which has not been released publicly, shows the officers firing their weapons before returning fire.

After the bail hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney Alyssa Janicki read to reporters the prosecution’s statement filed in court. Prosecutors say the two officers were in an unmarked car on their way to a police training course on the morning of July 22 when they saw a group of men on foot. They stopped to ask what they were doing outside a closed business, Janicki said. Earlier, Foxx said the officers were not wearing body-worn cameras.

Medina and a juvenile walked toward the police vehicle, he said, with the juvenile “wearing a bag slung across his body, he had a firearm.” When they approached the defendants’ vehicle, the juvenile held the firearm. The victim, Medina, had a cell phone and a bottle of wine in one hand and the other was empty. At some point the juvenile turned and ran away while Medina continued walking toward the car, Janicki said.

When Medina reached the passenger side, he waved at the officers with his bare hand and displayed his cell phone and bottle of wine with the other.

The officers then both fired “multiple shots” in Medina’s direction from inside the vehicle, hitting him in the back and leg. Medina fell to the ground.

The juvenile continued to run down the street and then fired at officers who responded by unloading their weapons, Janicki said.

A pedestrian suffered a leg injury in the incident, he said.

The officers were interviewed after the Chicago Police Department contacted his office to seek charges against the juvenile, Janicki said.

During the first interview, the officers told detectives that they had fired their guns “shooting the juveniles.” In a second interview, they told a detective and an assistant state’s attorney that they didn’t know who shot first, but said the young man was pointing a gun at them before he opened fire.

But after the shooting, Janicki said his office obtained surveillance video that contradicted what the defendants told detectives. As the video revealed, “when the defendants unloaded their weapons on the victim, the victim was standing in the street near the passenger window of the defendants’ vehicle with both hands visible, one empty hand and the other holding a cell phone. bottle of wine,” Janicki said, adding that the young man was seen running away from the vehicle.

Reynoso’s attorney, Brian Sexton, argued during the bond hearing that it was not clear from the video that the officers fired first, according to CNN affiliate WBBM. CNN has reached out to Sexton and Liakopoulos’ attorney, Timothy Grace, for comment.

“The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office is committed to justice and fairness and that is what brings us here today. We do not take this great responsibility lightly, nor do we celebrate taking office as a police officer,” Foxx said. “We support the hardworking men and women of the Chicago Police Department who, like many law enforcement partners throughout Cook County, face risks every day to keep us safe.”

“In this particular case, we cannot condone or condone unprovoked acts of violence even by those sworn to serve and protect our communities,” Foxx added.

Both officers are members of the Chicago Police Department’s major crash investigation unit. Liakopoulos has been with the department since 2001 and has been working at the Reynoso agency since 2003.

CNN contacted the Chicago Police Department, which confirmed that the officers had been stripped of their police powers, but declined to comment on the details of the case.

In a video posted on YouTube, John Catanzara Jr., president of the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7, said: “Two of our officers were charged by Kim Foxx for doing his job. An active shooter battle with an armed offender, and they fought back and opened fire.Catanzara did not respond to CNN’s multiple requests for comment Friday.

The Chicago Police Office of Civil Liability is also investigating the incident. Videos of the shooting are expected to be released publicly next week. Attorneys for the officers have asked a judge to stop the release of the video, WBBM reported.

According to Foxx, the investigation into the minor’s involvement is ongoing.