Man charged with exchanging gunfire with off-duty Chicago police officer on Stevenson, cop’s actions also under review

David C. Abarca, 22, pointed a fully automatic pistol with a laser sight at the officer on the inbound lanes near Ashland Avenue and gunfire was exchanged, according to a police report.

SHARE Man charged with exchanging gunfire with off-duty Chicago police officer on Stevenson, cop’s actions also under review
An Illinois State Police squad car

Sun-Times file

A Chicago police officer is under investigation after he exchanged gunfire on the Stevenson Expressway while off duty, seriously wounding a woman driving the other car.

The officer remains on active duty, and the only criminal charges filed so far are against a passenger in the other car who fired at the officer with a handgun illegally converted into a fully automatic weapon, according to the Illinois State Police.

The officer told authorities he was driving to work Thursday night when he got into an argument with the occupants of a blue Nissan Maxima on the Southwest Side.

There apparently was some “jockeying for position” as both cars got onto the Stevenson, a law enforcement source said. At some point, a passenger in the Nissan pointed a green laser light at the officer, and there was an exchange of gunfire in the inbound lanes near Ashland Avenue.

The 24-year-old woman driving the Nissan was hit in the head and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

The passenger in the car, David C. Abarca, 22, was arrested and charged with attempted murder, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and aggravated discharge of a weapon.

State police said they recovered a black Glock handgun with a switch that allowed it to be fired repeatedly with one trigger pull. A green laser light was also found in the car, state police said.

Police Supt. David Brown told reporters the officer, who was not in uniform, returned gunfire after shots were fired at him. The officer then drove to “the closest police district,” he said.

But Abarca’s lawyer said Monday it was the officer who fired first. “I think the cop started it,” said attorney Jospeh Lopez. “I know the cop fired first.”

Lopez said it was his understanding, from his client’s initial court hearing, that a green laser was flashed from the Nissan, but the officer then “began firing because he thought the person was going to shoot at him. And the officer shot up the car.

“They found 23 shell casings from my client’s gun,” he continued. “They found shell casings inside the car. The question is not who did it? The question is why it happened. I’m taking the position that the officer should’ve backed down.”

It is against departmental policy for officers to shoot at or from a moving car. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates use of force by Chicago police officers, was called to the scene of the shooting but has declined to provide any information.

A source said state police officials denied COPA officials access to the crime scene.

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