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Man sues city after being shot by CPD officers who face firing

Civil rights attorney L. Chris Stewart (left), client Antwon Golatte, and criminal attorney Danielle Pinkston on Monday discuss the Independent Police Review Authority's recent ruling that the police-involved shooting of Golatte in February 2015 was "unjustified." | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

A man shot two years ago by a pair of Chicago cops has sued the city in the wake of police-oversight officials ruling that the potentially deadly use of force was not justified.

Antwon Golatte filed the civil-rights lawsuit on Friday in U.S. District Court, court records show. The filing came a day after police Supt. Eddie Johnson asked the Chicago Police Board to fire Officer Jaime Gaeta and Detective Harry Matheos, police board executive director Max Caproni said.

The Independent Police Review Authority concluded last July that Gaeta and Matheos should be fired. Johnson agreed with IPRA’s ruling, and Gaeta and Matheos were stripped of their police powers soon after IPRA’s recommendation, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Wednesday.

They remain on the force in administrative roles pending the board’s decision, Guglielmi said, as do three other officers named as defendants in Golatte’s lawsuit, city payroll data shows.

Gaeta and Matheos opened fire at least five times on Golatte, now 35, the afternoon of Feb. 7, 2015, when he tried to drive away from a traffic stop in the 300 block of West 115th Street, authorities said. He was shot in the abdomen and underwent surgery. The suit says bullet fragments remain “near his vital organs.”

Police had claimed at the time that Golatte backed his SUV into an unmarked squad car and tried to run down the officers after they pulled him over as part of a drug investigation. Bullet trajectories showed nearly all the shots were fired from angles that indicate Golatte was driving away from officers, who were a safe distance from the SUV as it pulled away, according to the IPRA report that ruled the shootings unjustified.

The Roseland resident was acquitted of four aggravated-assault charges in a bench trial last month, court records show.

Antwon Golatte shows reporters his bullet wounds at a July 2016 press conference. | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

Antwon Golatte shows reporters his bullet wounds at a July 2016 press conference. | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

According to Golatte’s suit, Gaeta and Matheos had stopped him two days before the shooting, when he says they illegally searched his sport-utility vehicle while “dumping his pizza onto the ground” and making him “stand barefoot in the snow” while handcuffed.

Golatte called 911 after being pulled over on Feb. 7 when he recognized the officers, who “began yelling, using profanity, threatening violence and pointed their firearms,” the suit says. Golatte claims he lowered his window to talk to the officers, but Gaeta jumped on the running board of the SUV and shattered the window before the shooting happened.

The seven-count suit also lists 100 unidentified CPD officers that it claims conspired under a “code of silence” to cover up the misconduct. Golatte is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

Golatte’s attorney said last year that Matheos and Gaeta have 34 citizen complaints between them. A spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office said prosecutors reviewed the case but found “insufficient evidence to sustain any criminal charges” against the officers.

Neither the officers nor an official from their police union could be reached for comment Wednesday night. It was unclear when the police board — a panel of mayoral appointees who decide police disciplinary cases — would begin hearing their cases. A spokesman for the city’s law department declined to comment.