The agency that investigates uses of force by Chicago police officers on Thursday released several videos and audio recordings that show, prosecutors allege, a drunk off-duty CPD officer lying about the circumstances that led to him firing his gun at a man on the Southwest Side last fall.
Officer Joseph Cabrera fired a round at the man in the 5800 block of West 52nd Street in Garfield Ridge on Oct. 13. He has since been stripped of his police powers and, on Wednesday, was charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm and disorderly conduct in connection with the shooting.
In recordings released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability Thursday, Cabrera can be heard telling a 911 call-taker: “I’m an off-duty police officer. I was just attacked and I discharged a round.”
“He knocked me to the ground. He was attacking me and I fired a round,” he continued. “He f——— attacked me and I spent a round.”
Cook County prosecutors, however, say Cabrera, 38, was lying when he claimed he was attacked.
“As a result of [Cabrera’s] false statements,” the 22-year-old man who Cabrera shot at was “treated as an offender” and placed into custody, although he was later released without being charged, Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Corda said Wednesday.
Video footage released by COPA shows several police officers responding to the scene near the intersection of West 52nd and South Monitor streets in Garfield Ridge, a neighborhood where scores of CPD officers live.
As officers arrived, Cabrera identified himself as a cop and raised his hands while directing the responding officers to the gun tucked into the waistband of his pants.
“Nobody shot at me,” he said. “I fired a round at ‘em.”
Shortly after 10 p.m. that fall night, Cabrera pulled up in his personal vehicle behind the man and his girlfriend as the couple sat in a car in the 5200 block of South Monitor Street, prosecutors said.
Cabrera, who had no prior relationship with the man and 21-year-old woman, then approached and asked if the pair needed him to call an ambulance.
The couple replied that they were fine, prosecutors said.
Cabrera continued to sit in his vehicle behind the couple’s car, making them feel “uncomfortable,” so they drove to the 5800 block of West 52nd Street, Corda said.
When they returned to Monitor Street again, Cabrera was gone. But once the man and woman parked their car, he returned, Corda said.
Cabrera got out of his vehicle again, allegedly started yelling at the couple and told them to leave, prompting the man to leave his car to confront Cabrera.
Cabrera went on to grab the man by the neck and punched him in the head before pulling his Glock 17 pistol and firing it once in the man’s direction, Corda said. The couple then fled to the woman’s nearby home.
When officers arrived, they handcuffed the man whom Cabrera shot at and placed him in the back of a police SUV while they worked to sort out the series of events.
“He started getting aggressive with me and then he started putting his finger in my face and he grabbed my neck,” the man told officers. “And that’s when I punched him and he pulled out a f------ gun on me and shot me.”
“You get hit?” one officer asks.
“No, I didn’t get hit but I heard it and everything,” the man replied, his voice rising. “If he killed me, if he shot me, what would happen?”
Cabrera told responding officers that he had chest pains, and he was taken to MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, where he was allegedly found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.104 — more than the legal 0.08 limit.