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2nd lawsuit filed against city in fatal Pilsen police shooting

Surveillance footage shows a Chicago Police officer firing into an SUV in August 2015. | Independent Police Review Authority

A second lawsuit was filed against the city Friday in connection with the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old man by Chicago Police officers last summer in the Pilsen neighborhood.

Jose Cabello claims he was also hit by police gunfire in the Aug. 29, 2015 shooting that killed Rafael A. Cruz Jr., according to the suit filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court. Cruz’s mother Rachel Ybarra filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday.

About 1:30 a.m., Cabello was riding in an SUV with two other people and Cruz at the wheel when they got into an “altercation” with a group in another vehicle near 23rd Street and Wood, the suits claim.

Ogden District Cmdr. Frank Valadez was on patrol in an unmarked squad car with another officer, and they saw someone in Cruz’s SUV shooting at the other vehicle, according to a CPD statement issued after the shooting.

The officers were in street clothes and didn’t have emergency lights on, so Cruz and his cohorts fled, thinking the police car was “involved with the vehicle with whom they had just had an altercation,” the suits claims.

The officers chased them to the intersection of 19th and Ashland. Surveillance footage posted online by the Independent Police Review Authority shows Cruz’s SUV slamming into two parked cars and reversing into the police car. The officers get out of their vehicle as the SUV goes into a gated church parking lot, and they open fire as the SUV circles back out of the lot and westbound on 19th Street.

Police claimed they opened fire when they moved in to arrest the suspects and the driver “purposefully reversed” the vehicle to hit Valadez and the officer. Both lawsuits claim officers violated department policy by firing “into a moving SUV when the vehicle is the only force potentially being used against those officers.”

The chase ended nearby when the SUV crashed into more parked cars, police said. Cruz, of the 1900 block of South Jefferson, suffered a gunshot wound to the back and died at the scene, an autopsy found.

IPRA’s investigation into the use of force is ongoing.

Valadez and the other patrol officer are also listed as defendants. A spokesman for the city’s law department declined to comment Thursday.

Erik Martinez | Cook County sheriff’s office
Erik Martinez | Cook County sheriff’s office

Police said they recovered a handgun at the scene. Erik Martinez, 35, was charged with Cruz’s murder while committing a felony discharge of a firearm. He remains held without bond at the Cook County Jail after pleading not guilty, court records show. His next court date is scheduled for Aug. 22.

The officers suffered injuries that weren’t considered life-threatening, police said. After the shooting, then-CPD Supt. Garry McCarthy called it “a clear depiction of how the men and women of the Chicago Police Department are on the front lines, relentlessly targeting those individuals who torment our neighborhoods with gun violence.”

The two-count wrongful death suit filed by Ybarra claims the officers used excessive force and is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

Cabello’s suit claims one count of battery by the officers and seeks more than $500,000 in damages.

Note: Incident starts at 34:09.