Video of fatal police shooting captures intense exchange of gunfire in Pilsen

Miguel Vega, 26, was fatally shot by an officer on Aug. 31 in the 1300 block of West 19th Street in Pilsen.

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Mourners stand beside lit candles at a vigil for Miguel Vega, who was fatally shot by police last month.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The agency that investigates uses of force by Chicago police officers released several videos Monday capturing an intense exchange of gunfire in Pilsen last month that ended with a man fatally shot by a CPD officer.

Miguel Vega, 26, was shot and killed by an officer on Aug. 31 in the 1300 block of West 19th Street in Pilsen.

CPD officials said officers went to the block around 10:45 p.m. after someone called 911 to report a “suspicious person.” Responding officers, who were traveling in an unmarked squad car, saw five people standing outside when they arrived.

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Once officers got out of their car, someone started shooting at them, striking the squad car, CPD Deputy Chief Daniel O’Shea said at a press conference that night. One officer returned fire, striking Vega in the head.

Video released Monday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability shows the squad car’s front passenger window being shot out as soon as an officer opens the door, although there is no audio at first.

One of the officers then runs out of the squad car and opens fire, striking Vega, who is later seen lying face-down and motionless, with blood pooling near his head on the sidewalk.

The officer who fired the shots can be heard telling his colleagues: “My whole window’s shot out. Good thing I f- - - - - - ducked.”

The officer later walks over to Vega and says: “We’ve got an ambulance coming to you, brother. Keep talking to me, man. Keep talking to me, brother. You’re going to be all right. You’re going to be all right.”

Vega was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

WARNING: The following video contains graphic images and language.

His family was able to view the footage before it was publicly released, though they did not respond to an interview request. All told, COPA released 11 videos, including one from each of the first two officers to arrive at the scene.

Vega’s family had previously cast doubt on the CPD’s version of events. Earlier this month, Vega’s younger brother told supporters that police were “scared” to give his family more information about how officers came to fatally shootVega.

Days after the shooting, the commander of the CPD’s Near West District issued a warning to officers that said members of the La Raza gang may be targeting cops for retaliation.

With some exceptions, COPA releases footage of police shootings 60 days after the shooting occurs. If an incident results in criminal charges, a judge will order the footage be withheld.

COPA opted to release footage of the Vega shooting just 21 days after it occurred, and less than a week after the city’s Office of the Inspector General criticized the agency for its occasional failure to release video footage in a timely fashion.

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