It’s ‘unclear’ whether man killed in police shooting in Irving Park fired at officers, COPA says

But hours after the shooting Wednesday, Chicago police chief said the man was killed during “an apparent exchange of gunfire.”

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Police fatally shot a man near Christina’s Place, a bar in Irving Park, Feb. 9.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Hours after a man was fatally shot by two Chicago cops near an Irving Park bar, the city’s top cop told reporters Wednesday that the man was killed during “an apparent exchange of gunfire.”

But on Thursday, the city agency charged with investigating allegations of serious police misconduct cast doubt on the key claim that the 21-year-old died in a gunfight with officers.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability “can confirm a weapon was recovered at the scene and body-worn camera video captures the initial interaction as well as the subsequent shooting,” COPA First Deputy Chief Administrator Ephraim Eaddy said in a statement. “It is unclear, nor has it been determined by COPA, if the individual discharged his weapon at police.”

A police spokesperson declined to comment on COPA’s statement, noting the oversight agency is actively investigating the shooting.

At a news conference at police headquarters on Wednesday, Brown said the man who was killed had returned to Christina’s Place, 3759 N. Kedzie Ave., after being kicked out. A security guard at the bar heard arguing outside, and the man pointed a gun at the bouncer and other people in the area, Brown said.

The guard walked back into the bar and called police, and officers responded and were pointed in the man’s direction, Brown said. That’s when he ran toward an alley where there was “an apparent exchange of gunfire,” with two officers and the man all firing shots.

The man, who hasn’t been identified, was shot and pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. A gun equipped with an extended magazine was recovered, Brown said.

“From what we know now, based on looking at the body-worn camera [footage], the offender fired his weapon, and the officers fired their weapon,” he said, noting investigators have little indication of what led up to the shooting.

COPA offered a different initial account. The agency said the two officers found the man walking and suspected he was involved in an earlier “altercation.” After getting out of their vehicle, the officers chased the man and ordered him to drop to the ground, COPA said.

As the officers followed him into an alley, the man fell and was ordered to stay down, COPA said. When the man started to get up, both officers fired multiple shots.

At the scene, officers radioed that shots had been fired at police and called for an ambulance.

“We have one subject down in the alley; he still has the gun in his hand,” an officer told a police dispatcher. “We are not looking for any other offenders at this time.”

The shooting comes months after the police department unveiled a permanent foot-pursuit policy, which was implemented after the fatal police shootings of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 21-year-old Anthony Alvarez stoked calls to reform the practice.

The policy notably bars officers from chasing a person simply for fleeing and advises them to reconsider pursuing someone who appears armed with a gun.

The officers involved in the shooting were taken to a hospital for “observation purposes” and were listed in good condition, Brown said. One of the officers involved in the shooting is a “veteran,” and the other is a probationary officer, he said.

Both will be placed on routine administrative duties for at least 30 days as COPA investigates, Brown said.

Video footage of the shooting will be released publicly within 60 days under a city policy, unless the disclosure is blocked by a court order.

“Investigators will continue to canvass the area and are attempting to identify and obtain additional video, as well as identify witnesses from the night of the incident,” Eaddy said. “We are committed to a full and thorough investigation to determine the facts related to this incident and if the actions of the involved officers are in accordance with department training and policy.”

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