Latino leaders gathered in Pilsen on Tuesday to call on the Chicago Police Department and city to put a moratorium on foot pursuits in the wake of two separate chases — just days apart — that ended in Latinos being fatally shot by police.
“The recent videos release of the foot pursuit shootings of Anthony Alvarez and Adam Toledo by Chicago police officers shows a department in crisis,” said attorney Arturo Jáuregui. CPD’s “inability to protect human life during foot pursuits, and use of force, is further evidence of a department in need of immediate reform.”
Jáuregui called for new policies and procedures for foot pursuits to clearly outline when an officer should engage in a chase and under what circumstances lethal force can be used. The new policies, he said, also should include disciplinary measures against cops who violate them.
The moratorium, Jáuregui added, should apply only when there is no imminent threat of harm to officers or bystanders.
“While a moratorium on foot pursuits will ease some of the psychological trauma that has resulted from these recent shootings in the Latino community, it does not address the underlying causes of the problem,” Jáuregui said. “Comprehensive reforms are needed to address poor and misguided policing practices that have plagued Black and Brown communities for decades.”
Jesse Fuentes, director of policy with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, said the police chases of both Adam and Alvarez created “an emotional climate that allowed CPD officers to make an unjustified and irrational decision to kill two Latino young men from our community” and strip them of their right to due process.
“We can no longer lead nor govern on our back foot. We must take immediate action,” Fuentes said.
Last month, Jáuregui and a group of Latino lawyers called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the fatal shooting of Adam, who was 13 years old.
A damning DOJ report, issued in 2017, listed “poor police practices” in Chicago, including “tactically unsound foot pursuits.”
That report said such pursuits sometimes ended in police shooting people they were chasing not because they were suspected of a serious crime, but simply because they were running away. Adrenaline and fatigue were listed as factors in police officers shooting people in foot chases, the report said.
Now, under a federal consent decree, CPD has agreed to make hundreds of reforms to police practices, including foot chases.
The latest report from a court-appointed independent monitor, which analyzed CPD data, said the department averages about seven foot pursuits per day with about one third of all reported foot pursuits ending with a use of force. The independent monitor also found “considerable progress toward tracking and analyzing” how often officers engage in foot pursuits.