Hundreds march in Pilsen as family of man shot by police demand answers

Supporters carried signs that called for the release of police body camera footage from the shooting of Miguel Vega on Monday night, which his family believes will exonerate him.

SHARE Hundreds march in Pilsen as family of man shot by police demand answers
Erik Vega, Miguel Vega’s brother, demands justice for Miguel during a protest in Pilsen Saturday afternoon, Sept. 5, 2020. Miguel was fatally shot by a Chicago police officer Aug. 31 in the 1300 block of West 19th Street.

Erik Vega, demands justice for his brother, 26-year-old Miguel Vega, during a protest Saturday in Pilsen. Miguel Vega was fatally shot by a Chicago police officer Monday in the 1300 block of West 19th Street.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

At a rally Saturday in Pilsen, 20-year-old Erik Vega called Chicago police “scared” to give his family more information about how officers came to fatally shoot his older brother five days earlier, a block from where he addressed the crowd.

“This isn’t like other cases, because [police] know my brother was innocent,” he told supporters that gathered at the base of Plaza Tenochtitlan’s iconic obelisk monument.

Erik Vega promised demonstrators they would get justice for his brother, 26-year-old Miguel Vega, who was shot by police Monday night.

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“I’m very angry he had to go this way,” Erik Vega said.

More than 100 people then marched with Vega’s family from the plaza at 18th and Loomis streets toward the Near West District police station on Blue Island Avenue, but were blocked by dozens of police officers in riot gear from getting near the station.

The demonstrators then marched East on 18th Street.

Family of Miguel Vega march on 18th Street with supporters Saturday in Pilsen.

Family of Miguel Vega march on 18th Street with supporters Saturday in Pilsen.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Protesters carried signs that read “We want answers” and “Release the footage,” referring to unreleased police body camera video that Vega’s family believes will exonerate him.

The shooting is under investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which typically releases any footage 60 days after a police-involved shooting.

Miguel Vega was shot by officers about 10:45 p.m. Monday after police say Vega fired at their vehicle as they responded to a call of suspicious person in the 1300 block of West 19th Street.

Officers returned fire and Vega was struck in the head. He died a short time later at Stroger Hospital.

Two people arrested at the scene were later released without charges, police said. A pistol was recovered.

Police warned officers Friday of possible retaliatory violence targeting police from a gang that claims territory in the neighborhood.

At the march, Erik Vega accused police officers of responding to the call “aggressively” and said it appeared to him the officers were “looking for trouble.”

The “truth will come out sooner or later,” he added.

Miguel Vega’s second-youngest brother, Johnny Vega, told demonstrators his brother was a “was a great man — a man that didn’t have things go as planned — but he always figured out a way to do the right thing.”

Demonstrators and police line up at 18th and Loomis streets on Saturday during a march in support of the family of Miguel Vega, who was fatally shot by police earlier this week in the neighborhood.

Demonstrators and police line up at 18th and Loomis streets on Saturday during a march in support of the family of Miguel Vega, who was fatally shot by police earlier this week in the neighborhood.

David Struett/Sun-Times

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) attended the march and asked for a moment of silence for Miguel Vega, who the alderman said was the victim of a “rotten system.”

“Only the truth will set us all free,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “When is it going to be enough?”

Sigcho-Lopez also called for police to release more information about the shooting so that Vega’s family and the community can start healing.

As the march ended, Erik Vega spoke to the crowd but directed his thoughts at the officers who had shot his brother, saying “I wish you could be in my shoes. ... I’m pretty sure you’re not feeling the pain I am now.”

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