“Why you shooting me?” Anthony Alvarez, wounded on the pavement, asks the officer. “You had a gun,” said the officer.
Video released Wednesday shows a Chicago police officer fatally shoot Anthony Alvarez as he ran from police with a gun in his hand in the Portage Park neighborhood.
A Chicago police officer yells “Drop the gun! Drop the gun!” before firing five shots from close range, according to the police bodycam video released by the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates police shootings.
Alvarez, 22, collapses onto the front sidewalk of a home on the 5200 block of West Eddy Street in the early-morning hours of March 31.
A gun can be seen in Alvarez’s right hand in the footage captured by the body camera of the officer who pulled the trigger.
Video from a camera mounted to a home feet from where Alvarez collapsed shows a gun drop from his hand as he falls to the pavement.
“Why you shooting me?” Alvarez asks the officer.
“You had a gun,” said the officer, who then tells his partner to place handcuffs on Alvarez.
“No, I’m going to render aid,” his partner says before applying a tourniquet and administering chest compressions.
The video doesn’t show Alvarez pointing a gun at the officers in pursuit.
Alvarez was wounded twice, once in the right side of his back with an exit wound in the upper right chest, and once in his right thigh, according to a police document released Wednesday. He was pronounced dead at Illinois Masonic Medical Center.
The Chicago Police Department and COPA said Alvarez ran off as tactical officers approached him at a gas station, leading to a foot chase. What the officers wanted from Alvarez wasn’t disclosed.
However, at an unrelated news conference before the video was released, Mayor Lori Lightfoot referred to it as “a minor traffic offense,” saying: “We can’t live in a world where a minor traffic offense results in someone being shot and killed. That’s not acceptable to me and shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone.”
COPA announced Wednesday it had recommended the officer who shot Alvarez be relieved of police powers during the investigation, which would mean the officer would be placed on paid desk duty after a standard 30-day leave.
Police Supt. David Brown said Wednesday at a news conference that he hadn’t been notified of the COPA recommendation.
Brown declined to share additional details of the shooting, what led to it or his thoughts on it, saying it was important he refrain from sharing his opinion so COPA could conduct a “clean and clear” investigation.
The 30-year-old officer who fired the fatal shots joined the force in 2015, according to the Invisible Institute, which tracks police discipline. The Institute’s website says the officer was accused of misconduct in a South Side traffic stop in 2017, but the case was closed without being sustained. The Sun-Times isn’t naming him because he isn’t officially accused of wrongdoing.
Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said the shooting was justified.
“It’s a 100% good shooting,” he said, adding that, in his opinion, Alvarez was turning, gun in hand, to face the officer when the shooting occurred.
“The offender was trying to turn to the left, you don’t wait until the guy turns all the way around and squares up to you until you shoot,” he said.
Catanzara said the officer, in fear for his life, moved left to seek cover behind nearby parked cars when he fired his weapon.
“The officer actually even raises his left hand almost to his face, almost trying to block a bullet, it goes to the mindset of where the officer was,” he said.
Lightfoot and attorneys representing the Alvarez family issued a joint statement Wednesday morning asking for people who wish to “express themselves” in response to the video “do so peacefully and with respect for our communities and the residents of Chicago.
Alvarez’s family saw the video footage Tuesday.
The shooting happened two days after an officer shot and killed Toledo on March 29 in Little Village. Toledo’s killing also happened during a foot chase, prompting Lightfoot to direct CPD to draft a new foot pursuit policy.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
The mayor said Wednesday the police department is making progress on her directive to revise the foot chase policy.
“As I’ve said before, it’s one of the most dangerous activities that officers engage in. Dangerous for themselves. Dangerous for the person being pursued. And it’s dangerous for members of the public.”
Lightfoot urged everyone to “look at both the raw footage” of the Alvarez shooting “at real speed” as well as the “frame-by-frame” of what happened.
“I understand, having investigated many of these shootings, that officers are, in many instances, called upon to make split-second decisions, particularly in instances like this one where there’s a gun,” said Lightfoot, a former Police Board president.
“Nonetheless … a traffic incident … should not result in the death of anyone. So we have more work to do to be sure.”
Lightfoot said she hopes to have that new foot chase policy ready for public review sometime next month.
But, she said, it’s got to be done “the right way” with plenty of input.
“What I’ve encouraged the department to do is to make sure they’re engaging on the front-end with key stakeholders, not the least of which is line police officers who are gonna be responsible for implementing whatever the new policy is. We have to have their voices, as well as community voices, in those discussions … and reflected in the new policy,” the mayor said.
“It’s really important that we get it right,” Brown said of the policy.
Contributing: David Struett