A Chicago police officer has been indicted on more felony charges, including attempted murder, for an off-duty shooting that took place while he was allegedly intoxicated.
Joseph Cabrera, an eight-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, was initially charged last month with aggravated discharge of a weapon and disorderly conduct for the Oct. 13 incident on the Southwest Side.
But the 38-year-old was indicted this week on additional charges, including attempted murder, false reporting of an offense and obstruction of justice, court records show.
After the shooting, Cabrera “falsely claimed he had been attacked and knocked to the ground” before he fired his weapon.
But it was Cabrera who had initiated the encounter with the 22-year-old man he later fired upon, Cook County prosecutors said. Cabrera, who was released on his own recognizance, was never attacked, prosecutors said.
About 10 p.m. the night of the shooting, the victim and his 21-year-old girlfriend were sitting in a car in the 5200 block of South Monitor Street when Cabrera pulled up behind them, prosecutors said.
Cabrera then approached the couple and asked them if they needed an ambulance. Confused, the couple replied that they were fine, prosecutors said.
When Cabrera continued to sit in his parked vehicle behind them, the couple grew uncomfortable and drove away, but later the man and woman returned to the block, prosecutors said.
Cabrera also returned, got out of his car and allegedly started yelling at the couple to leave, prompting the man to leave his car to confront Cabrera.
Cabrera grabbed 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, prosecutors said. The man was not hit.
The man and his girlfriend ended up running to her nearby home while Cabrera called 911, prosecutors said.
In recordings released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, Cabrera can be heard telling a 911 dispatcher, “He knocked me to the ground. He was attacking me and I fired a round.
“He f——— attacked me and I spent a round.”
But a witness who was walking his or her dog at the time refuted Cabrera’s account, prosecutors said.
Because of Cabrera’s “false statement,” the 22-year-old man was “treated as an offender” and placed into custody, prosecutors said. The man was later released without charges.
Cabrera was taken to a hospital after the shooting when he complained of chest pains. He was found to have a blood-alcohol content of 0.104 — more than the legal 0.08 limit, prosecutors said.
Because Cabrera is facing felony charges, he wasn’t charged with a misdemeanor DUI, prosecutors said.
“All of his actions were consistent with someone who believed he was acting reasonably in self defense,” Cabrera’s private attorney, Will Fahy, said at the bond hearing last month. “He remained on the scene, he called police immediately after the incident, he cooperated with the investigation.”
Fahy was not available Friday to comment on the new charges.
Three days after the shooting, COPA — which investigates allegations of police wrongdoing — told state’s attorney’s office that a criminal review of the shooting was needed.
“After this matter was reviewed by prosecutors in our Law Enforcement Accountability Division, charges were filed based on all available evidence and the law,” a spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office said Friday.
Cabrera has since been relieved of his police powers and could face additional disciplinary actions pending the outcome of the criminal and administrative investigations, Chicago police said in a statement in January.
A Chicago police spokesman Friday said that Cabrera has been assigned to desk duty while he awaits trial.
A city database shows Cabrera’s salary is $84,054.