Judge won’t block release of video showing shooting that led to charges against 2 Chicago police officers

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is set to release video this week from the July 22 shooting in Pilsen, just days after Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced charges against the officers.

SHARE Judge won’t block release of video showing shooting that led to charges against 2 Chicago police officers
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Chicago Police Officer Ruben Reynoso, in a gray jacket, and Sgt. Christopher Liakopoulos, in a black hoodie, run to a car after posting bond at Cook County Jail Friday in Chicago. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is set to release video of an on-duty shooting by the two officers that wounded a 23-year-old man.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times, AP Photos

A judge refused Monday to block a civilian oversight agency from releasing video of a shooting that led to criminal charges against two Chicago police officers.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is set to release surveillance video of the July 22 shooting in Pilsen sometime this week, days after State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced charges against Sgt. Christopher Liakopoulos and Officer Ruben Reynoso.

At a news conference Friday, Foxx said surveillance video shows the officers lied when they initially claimed they returned fire after shots were fired at them early on the morning of July 22. The video shows the officers actually fired first, Foxx said.

Lawyers for the two officers said the video being released by COPA shows only “half” of the incident, and could bias prospective jurors if made public. While the video will show the officers firing shots, it will not show a 17-year-old boy “dropping into a two-point stance and firing at two police officers,” said Brian Sexton, the attorney representing Reynoso.

“They’re trying to make my officer the bad guy,” Sexton said.

The 17-year-old was not hit, and no charges have been filed against him, though Foxx said the investigation is continuing. A 23-year-old man, Miguel Medina, was shot and seriously wounded. Foxx said he did not have a gun.

COPA spokesman Ephraim Eaddy said the portion of the video showing the teen firing at police will not be made public because the teen is a minor.

“We don’t edit video,” Eaddy said. “We do redact portions where there is a concern for privacy, as with a minor.”

The video is central to the case against the officers and allegedly runs counter to the narrative initially put forth by police brass. Chicago Police Supt. David Brown initially told reporters that a gunman “shot first” at Liakopoulos and Reynoso.

“Once our officer identified himself as a police officer. They began pulling a gun and shooting at our officers, trying to kill them,” Brown said at the time.

The Sun-Times at the time incorrectly quoted Brown as saying the shooter “immediately” opened fire. He didn’t use that word to describe the sequence of events.

On Monday, Brown said he agreed with the state’s attorney’s office’s findings that video evidence disproved the early claim that “there was an initial exchange of gunfire.”

He said that preliminary statements on police shootings are typically based on “our initial interactions with what officers may say at the scene.”

Asked why he didn’t revise his statement when more evidence emerged, Brown said police officials “never make definitive statements on preliminary investigations.”

“We always say this is information that we’re sharing with you now, and it could change,” he told reporters at the Corinthian Temple Church of God in Christ in West Garfield Park. “And we always put it in those terms.”

Brown declined to say whether he backed Foxx’s decision to file the criminal charges before COPA completed its investigation, citing the oversight agency’s ongoing probe of the shooting.

He said he needs to remain as “impartial” as possible as that investigation proceeds, given that he will eventually have to formally respond to COPA’s disciplinary recommendations for the officers. Should a disagreement arise, a single member of the Chicago Police Board would rule on what disciplinary action should be taken.

At a bond hearing for the officers last week, prosecutors said the pair were on their way to CPD headquarters for a training course when they stopped to investigate a group of people in the 1000 block of West 18th Street. Medina and the 17-year-old, who had a satchel across the front of his body, approached the officers’ unmarked car as the officers talked to the group.

Medina was standing at the passenger side window of the car, showing officers both his hands, when Reynoso extended his arm from the window of the squad car and pointed a gun, prosecutors said. Liakopoulos also reached for his gun and leaned across Reynoso as both officers opened fire, striking Medina in his back and leg, according to prosecutors.

The 17-year-old took off running, grabbing a gun from his satchel and firing at the officers, and a 35-year-old man walking in the area suffered a graze wound to his leg, according to officials.

When police sought attempted murder charges against the boy, both officers told detectives the boy shot first and they only fired afterward, prosecutors said. Because they had been on their way to training, neither officer had body-worn cameras.

Interviewed by the state’s attorney’s office the next day, the officers allegedly said they didn’t know who shot first, but the juvenile pointed a gun at them before they fired at Medina. A few days later, prosecutors viewed new surveillance video that they said contradicted the officers’ account of the shooting.

Both officers have been stripped of their police powers. On Monday, Judge Mary Marubio ruled the two are not to have weapons but can retain their firearm owners identification cards, which are a requirement for them to remain employed by the police department.

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