Body cam footage of fatal OIS in Chicago released, showing suspect was armed
Body cam footage of fatal OIS in Chicago released, showing suspect was armed

Jeremy Gorner

Chicago Tribune

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 to run down an alley at first, then bear down on Alvarez as they turn a corner onto a small lawn.

Chicago police also released a photo of the gun Alvarez was carrying.

In a frame-by-frame viewing of the shooting, the officer can be seen to raise 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 to gain ground and fire 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’d you shoot me?” And an officer replies, “because you had a gun!”

Police have said they recovered a pistol at the scene. Third-party camera footage which 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.

Authorities have not released exactly where on Alvarez’s body he was struck. 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 to 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 to surround 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.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot released a statement with Anthony 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.”

The statement mirrors one sent by Lightfoot and the lawyers for Adam Toledo’s family earlier this month as COPA prepared to release video of police shooting the 13-year old in Little Village.

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 family of Anthony Alvarez, said the fatal shooting of the young father in the early morning hours of March 31 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 the offices of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which is investigating the shooting and will likely release the video footage to the public Wednesday morning.

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.

jgorner@chicagotribune.com

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