Bodycam video shows University of Chicago police officer firing across street at gunman while yelling at him to get on the ground

The gunman was shot and seriously wounded as he continued to approach the officer, even after he was struck by a bullet, according to the university.

SHARE Bodycam video shows University of Chicago police officer firing across street at gunman while yelling at him to get on the ground

Evidence markers are seen near police officers standing near East 53rd Street and South Woodlawn Avenue in Hyde Park Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 18, 2022, after University of Chicago police shot a man.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Newly released bodycam video shows a University of Chicago police officer firing across a street at a gunman while repeatedly yelling at him to get on the ground and not move.

The gunman was shot and seriously wounded as he continued to approach the officer, according to the university. 

The officer had stopped to investigate a man walking south with a handgun drawn on Woodlawn Avenue at 53rd Street shortly before noon Tuesday. 

The gunman started firing as the officer stepped out of his car, according to a statement from the university. 

But bodycam video released by the school begins with the officer on the front steps of a home, shouting for a man across the street to “get on the ground, get on the ground.” 

Seconds later, the officer begins shooting at the man, firing at least five times. The officer then runs closer to the man, using an SUV for cover while continuing to yell “get on the ground” and firing more shots. 

About 45 seconds into the 54-second video, the man can be seen lying on the ground. The officer then radios, “Send an ambulance, he’s hit at least two times, officer-involved shooting.”

The man, in his 20s, was taken in critical condition to the university’s medical center. His name has not been released, though the school’s statement said he is not affiliated with the university.

Shortly after the shooting, police blocked off 53rd Street from Kimbark to an alley west of Woodlawn. Six evidence markers could be seen on the ground.

An employee who answered the phone at Kimbark Liquor and Wine said people ran in the store saying they saw “a guy waving a gun” before shooting erupted. The employee, who asked not to be named, didn’t see the shooting himself.

The Chicago Police Department and university are both investigating the shooting. The officer is being placed on mandatory administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigations, the school said.

In April 2018, University of Chicago police shot a student about a block from Tuesday’s incident after the man allegedly charged at an officer holding a pipe during a possible mental health crisis.

The student, Charles Soji Thomas, was later charged with aggravated assault of a police officer and criminal damage to property for allegedly smashing windows of cars shortly before the shooting. The charges were later dropped.

Students with CareNotCops, a group formed in response to the Thomas case, said it was concerned about the similarities with Tuesday’s shooting.

“From what we know right now, it seems like he was undergoing a mental health crisis, which just further connects it to Soji,” Warren Wagner, an organizer with CareNotCops, told the Sun-Times. 

Since the group’s formation, CareNotCops has pushed the university to divest its police force and invest in mental health resources and facilities on campus. 

The fatal shooting of graduate student Shaoxiong “Dennis” Zheng this past fall led some members of the university community to demand a larger police presence on campus, but Hala Hersi, another organizer with CareNotCops, said such actions will do nothing to address the root causes of violence. 

“Police only ever react to gun violence — there are never any preventative measures,” Hersi said. “If we want to begin actually healing as a community...we must start by ending violent practices of increased policing and surveillance.”

“What we actually need is investment in our communities,” Sahar Punjwani, another organizer with CareNotCops, told the Sun-Times. “We need things like access to mental health resources or the PeaceBook that GoodKids MadCity advocates for, because policing doesn’t solve the issue.”

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