CHICAGO (CBS) — The Civilian Office of Police Accountability has released surveillance video showing two police officers shooting an unarmed man in July in the Pilsen neighborhood, days after those officers were charged with multiple felonies.
The video shows officers opening fire from inside their unmarked squad car on July 22 on 18th Street near Morgan Street.
Chicago Police Sgt. Christopher Liakopoulos, 43, and Officer Ruben Reynoso, 42,
Their defense attorneys had asked a judge to block COPA from releasing the video, claiming the footage would only show half of what happened, but a judge denied that request, and COPA released the video on Tuesday.
The only surveillance video that shows the shooting does not have any sound, while two other videos released by COPA captured the sound of the shooting, but do not show the shooting.
WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT
The video shows the officers’ unmarked squad car backing down the street as a group of three people is standing on the sidewalk.
One of those people walks away while two others – a young man in a white hoodie and another young man in a black T-shirt and what appears to be a mask or hood – approach the officer’s car.
The man in the white hoodie, 23-year-old Miguel Medina, is holding a bottle and a cell phone in one hand and raises his other empty hand toward officers just before they start shooting, while the young man in the black t-shirt turns away from the officers and runs off camera. The man in the black shirt appeared to be clutching a gun against his chest as he ran away, but did not appear to point it at officers before they opened fire.
One officer’s arm can be seen pointing a gun out the front passenger side window before Medina collapses to the ground as the other young man runs off camera.
The two offices can then be seen getting out of the car and firing again in the direction of the young man in the black t-shirt. One of the officers the runs off camera as the other stays with the car, but does not provide any aid to Medina as he lies in the street.
Moments later, a passerby can be seen stopping to check on Medina before walking off. Within a few minutes, more police arrive, and other officers can be seen tending to Medina.
Chicago Police originally said the officers opened fire after one of the people who approached their car started shooting, but Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said last week that surveillance video contradicted the two officers’ account of the shooting. Foxx said Liakopoulos and Reynoso were the first to open fire, and had no justification for opening fire on Medina.
“The officers involved in this incident did not have provocation or justification to shoot the unarmed victim during this incident. The evidence does not support the use of deadly force related to the shooting of the unarmed victim, and was not lawful,” Foxx said. “We cannot ignore or stand by acts of unprovoked violence, even at the hands of those who are sworn to serve and protect our communities.”
Both Liakopoulos and Reynoso turned themselves in on Thursday, and posted bail after their bond hearing on Friday. They have both also have been ordered to surrender their firearms and Firearm Owners Identification Cards.
Both officers are assigned to the Major Accident Investigation Unit, and have been relieved of their police powers. Foxx said they face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
At the officers’ bond hearing Friday afternoon, Assistant State’s Attorney Alyssa Janicki said, after Liakopoulos and Reynoso stopped to question a group of men they spotted outside some closed businesses near 18th and Morgan to ask them what they were doing there, a 23-year-old man and a juvenile started walking toward the passenger side of the officers’ unmarked squad car.
While the juvenile was wearing a satchel on his chest that had a gun, the 23-year-old man was unarmed; holding a cell phone and wine bottle in one hand, with his other hand empty, according to Janicki.
After approaching the officers’ car, the juvenile turned and ran away, while the 23-year-old man showed officers both of his hands. Janicki said that’s when both Reynoso and Liakopoulos pointed their guns out the passenger’s side window and started shooting.
The 23-year-old man was shot in the back and leg, and fell to the ground, according to Janicki. The juvenile kept running east on 18th Street, before firing multiple shots at the officers, who fired several more shots.
A pedestrian who was walking behind the juvenile at the time suffered a graze wound, according to Janicki. Neither the juvenile nor the officers were wounded.
The 23-year-old man who was shot, Miguel Medina, has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and Liakopoulos.
The officers’ defense attorneys have disputed prosecutors’ account of the shooting, saying the Medina gestured at officers with his hand as both he and the juvenile were walking toward the car, and claiming it’s unclear from the surveillance video who fired first.
“It’s not clear who fired first … but it doesn’t matter if he’s pointing the gun at him,” said Reynoso’s defense attorney Brian Sexton.
Sexton also accused prosecutors of moving too quickly to file charges before the Civilian Office of Police Accountability has even completed a review of the case.
“The state has jumped the shark,” Sexton said.
The officers involved did not have body cameras, according to Foxx. The video evidence in the case came from surveillance cameras near the scene.
Foxx said an investigation remains open in regard to the juvenile, who has not been charged.
COPA also is investigating the officers’ use of force, but has yet to announce any findings.
Liakopoulos has been a Chicago Police officer for 21 years. During that time, he’s had 10 complaints filed against him, but none was substantiated – and he has never been disciplined.
Reynoso has been on the force for 19 years. He has had four complaints filed against him, and like his partner, none were substantiated.
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