Family of Anthony Alvarez files lawsuit, claims lack of CPD foot-pursuit policy led to his shooting death

Alvarez was at a gas station in the 3500 block of North Laramie Avenue when a police vehicle drove in front of him, leading to a fatal foot chase.

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A memorial for Anthony Alvarez, who was fatally shot by a Chicago police officer while running away with a gun in his hand, as seen in body cam footage, is set up in the 3500 block of North Laramie Avenue in the Portage Park neighborhood, Wednesday afternoon, April 28, 2021. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed against the city, claiming its failure to implement a foot-pursuit policy for the Chicago Police Department was the driving force behind a fatal shooting last year.

Anthony Alvarez was chased through the Portage Park neighborhood before being shot and killed by a CPD officer in the 5200 block of West Eddy Street early on March 31, 2021.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by Giselle Higuera, the mother of Alvarez’s child, also names as defendants the two officers who chased Alvarez, including Evan Solano, the officer who shot him.

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“The City’s failure to implement a foot chase policy and its support of a policing culture of impunity were the driving force behind” Solano firing at Alvarez, the lawsuit said.

A spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department said the city “has not yet been served with a complaint and will have no further comment as the matter is now in litigation.”

The incident started when Alvarez was at a gas station in the 3500 block of North Laramie Avenue and a police vehicle drove in front of him. It remains unclear why officers initially approached Alvarez, but a foot chase followed.

A fleeing Alvarez collapsed onto the front sidewalk of a home on the 5200 block of West Eddy Street. Footage from Solano’s body-mounted camera shows a gun in Alvarez’s right hand but never shows Alvarez pointing the gun toward officers.

Solano shouted “Drop the gun! Drop the gun!” seconds before shooting Alvarez in the back and left leg.

“Prior to the foot chase, the officers did not witness Anthony breaking any law, nor was Anthony wanted for any violent or felony offense,” said Christopher Smith, an attorney representing Higuera. “Startled and scared, Anthony ran. Anthony did not threaten the Defendant Officers or anyone else.”

Smith also noted Solano “nearly shot another Chicago man” less than two months after killing Alvarez. Bystanders caught Solano on camera in Logan Square, where he was recorded drawing a gun during an alleged road rage incident. Solano later was stripped of his police powers.

Alvarez was shot two days after 13-year-old Adam Toledo was killed by a police officer during a foot chase in Little Village. Both deaths sparked outrage and calls from Latino leaders for a moratorium on police foot pursuits. It also prompted mass protest as hundreds of people marched in Logan Square.

People filled Milwaukee Avenue Friday night, April 16, 2021 for a march to protest police violence. The march started in Logan Square Park, where thousands had gathered by a rally.

People filled Milwaukee Avenue on a Friday night in April 2021 for a march to protest police violence after the fatal police shootings, just days apart, of Adam Toledo and Anthony Alvarez.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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