Video shows new details of controversial police shooting at Chicago subway station

Tribune Content Agency

CHICAGO — New video from a police-involved shooting that wounded a man at a Red Line subway station earlier this year was released on Tuesday.

The independent agency that investigates Chicago police on Tuesday released more than a dozen video and audio clips from a controversial shooting by an officer that wounded a man who had been struggling with her and her partner at a Red Line subway station earlier this year.

While cell phone video was released shortly after the shooting at the Grand Avenue station — with Mayor Lori Lightfoot calling it “extremely disturbing — the new footage provides closer views of the struggle as well as the scramble afterward as officers tended to the man and passengers squeezed by his body on the floor.

In one of the clips, the two officers are shown struggling for several minutes to handcuff Ariel Roman, 33, on the platform at the end of February after he was stopped for passing between two cars of a moving train. The partners press on top of Roman while repeatedly demanding that he stop resisting.

“Please let me go,” Roman says. “I didn’t do nothing to you. I didn’t do nothing to you.”

“Stop resisting,” one of the officers says, repeating it nearly a dozen times.

He then yells, “Shoot him.”

Roman appears to say, “No, no, no.”

The officer says again, “Shoot him.”

The struggle continues and the female officer draws her weapon and shouts, “Put your (expletive) hands down.”

By this time, Roman is standing up and bends to pick up his coat. He appears to stagger toward a railing in the officer’s direction and a shot rings out. Roman rushes past her partner and runs up the escalator.

Both officers chase him and a second shot rings out. “Get down,” the officer who fired yells. “Get (expletive) down.”

A station camera shows Roman falling face down at the top of the escalator. The partner appears to use his radio as the one who fired bends over Roman. Their yellow Tasers can be seen bobbing up the escalator behind them.

The clips also show a quick, heavy response of officers who tend to Roman while paramedics are on the way.

“Where’s all the blood coming from,” one officer asks as they search for the wound.

“Keep breathing, guy,” an officer says. “Hey man, breathe, breathe, breathe.”

As the officers work on Roman, the partner tells them that Roman kept fighting them. “He started fighting with us. He wouldn’t stop.”

Roman survived his wound and is suing the city and the Chicago Police Department.

Reaction to the shooting by city officials was unusually swift and direct, perhaps driven by the availability of cell phone video taken by a CTA customer.

Charlie Beck, the interim police superintendent at the time, stripped Officers Melvina Bogard and Bernard Butler, the two officers involved in the incident, of their police powers. The shooting is under criminal investigation by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office with assistance from the FBI.

The officers’ conduct is also under the investigation of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which released the 18 videos, mostly of the aftermath of the shooting, along with six police audio transmissions and four police documents, including the official police reports.

“While critical steps remain, COPA’s investigation into the actions of the two officers are ongoing,” the agency said in a statement. “COPA is committed to conducting a full, thorough and objective investigation before reaching a determination of the appropriateness of the officers’ use of force and is also working in coordination with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.”

The shooting on Feb. 28 was arguably among the most explosive videos the department has grappled with since the 2014 killing of teenager Laquan McDonald — an incident that resulted in criminal charges and a second-degree murder conviction for Officer Jason Van Dyke.

In Roman’s federal lawsuit, he said he was suffering from an anxiety attack when he was “harassed, chased, tackled, pepper-sprayed, tasered and shot twice” without justification by Bogard and Butler. His lawyers say Roman was expected to make a long recovery from being shot in the abdomen and buttocks.

Greg Kulis, one of Roman’s lawyers, said some of the new videos from COPA were helpful in understanding what happened to Roman.

“He is not causing an issue. He’s not pushing people. Not aggressive. Not doing anything,” Kulis said. “There was really no reason that I could see to actually grab him and take him into custody in that form or fashion. It’s true to form as to what we’ve alleged in the (lawsuit), there was no reason to use deadly force.”

Kulis said Roman has since been released from the hospital but may need at least one more surgery.

The shooting happened at a time when the Chicago Police Department had added patrols to the CTA’s train system due to a rise in crime there. The following week, a new unit with about 50 officers was activated to specifically address that crime spike.

While police-involved shootings among Chicago cops have dropped over the years, Kulis said the Feb. 28 incident serves as an example of how officers need to be more aware of what’s going on around them before choosing to use their guns.

“I think just traditionally there’s a lot of police officers that just skip past some of their training or don’t get the appropriate training. And they think, ‘OK, so he’s resisted me … or pulled away from me, therefore, I can jump to this level and use deadly force,’” Kulis said.

“God forbid (those bullets) went astray and hit another person,” he said. “That would have been even more of a tragedy than what occurred on that afternoon.”


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