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Chicago cop facing firing for allegedly lying about fatal police shooting will retire

Officer Saharat Sampim, a 22-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, testified that he saw 19-year-old Roshad McIntosh point a gun at another officer, who shot and killed the teen.

Funeral for Roshad McIntosh, at the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, 743 S. Sacramento. Saturday, September 6, 2014
Chicago Police Officer Sahara Sampim will retire rather than face being fired for allegedly lying about a 2014 fatal police shooting on the West Side.
Sun-Times file

A Chicago cop facing termination for allegedly lying about a fatal police shooting on the West Side will retire next month, his attorneys announced Thursday.

Officer Saharat Sampim, a 22-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, was accused of making false statements about the 2014 police killing of 19-year-old Roshad McIntosh. Sampim testified that he saw McIntosh point a gun at Officer Robert Slechter, who shot and killed the teen.

In February 2020, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability called for Sampim’s firing after concluding the embattled officer lied about seeing McIntosh with a gun. COPA reported that Sampim could not see what he claimed to given where he was standing when the shooting happened.

An attorney representing Sampim announced Thursday that Sampim was retiring from the police force during a meeting related to his disciplinary case, said Max Caproni, executive director of the Chicago Police Board. His resignation will take effect April 30.

Caproni said attorneys for Supt. David Brown have moved to withdraw the disciplinary charge against Sampim. The Police Board could rule on whether to terminate those charges as early as next month’s meeting, Caproni said.

Sampim’s attorney, Tim Grace, said retirement was “the best thing for him and his family.”

“He’s served his city honorably for many years,” Grace said in an interview. “It’s very difficult to be a police officer nowadays. I think a lot of police officers are starting to realize that. And I think the people that are really going to get hurt are the citizens.”

Asked why his client didn’t choose to fight the charges against him, Grace noted that “not many people survive the Police Board.”

“What’s that old saying? Fight the fights that are worth fighting,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just not worthwhile to engage in a fight that you really don’t have the heart for.”

Andrew M. Stroth, an attorney representing McIntosh’s mother in a federal lawsuit against the city, said he believes Sampim is dodging accountability by tendering his resignation.

“How can we have a system and rules that when an officer is proven to do something wrong, the Police Board, if the officer resigns, has no jurisdiction to prosecute the case,” said Stroth.

“Officer Sampim was part of the blue code of silence and he made false statements,” he added. “And it’s devastating to the family and disappointing that the officer responsible in part is not facing any consequences.”

Despite recommending Sampim be fired, COPA has twice concluded the shooting of McIntosh was justified.

McIntosh was shot and killed by Slechter in August 2014 in the 2800 block of West Polk Street after he pointed a handgun at an officer, police and COPA say.

Officers were called to the block after receiving a tip two men there were armed with guns. Once there, officers found the block crowded with dozens of people. But only McIntosh ran away when they arrived.

An officer who chased McIntosh said he saw the teen grab his waistband, which is a common sign that someone is carrying a gun. COPA said the officer who fired said he ordered McIntosh to drop the gun several times — a claim corroborated by several police and civilian witnesses.