CHICAGO (AP) — A 22-year-old Chicago man who was fleeing from police had his back turned and appeared to be holding a gun when an officer fatally shot him last month, according to a video released Wednesday in what has become an all too familiar occurrence for the city's embattled police department.
Nearly two weeks after releasing video of the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, the city's independent police review board released footage and other investigation materials pertaining to the March 31 killing of Anthony Alvarez. Unlike in the Toledo case, the board recommended that the officer who shot Alvarez be stripped of his police powers until its investigation is finished — a rare move this early in one of its investigations.
As she did before the Toledo footage was made public, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on the public to remain calm and allow the review board — the Civilian Office of Police Accountability — to complete its investigation into the killing of Alvarez, who, like Toledo, was Latino. The head of the Chicago police union did the same, pleading in a video statement for the public to keep an open mind when watching the footage.
And even as Police Superintendent David Brown declined to discuss the details of the Alvarez shooting, his department, as it did after the Toledo shooting, released a compilation video, complete with arrows that make it easier to see the gun Alvarez was holding.
In one of the non-compilation clips posted on the review board's website, an officer’s body camera shows him chasing Alvarez. When Alvarez reaches a lawn in front of a house, the officer can be heard shouting, “Drop the gun! Drop the gun!” before he opens fire. Alvarez appears to drop a gun after five shots ring out and he falls to the ground.
As Alvarez lays there, he asks, “Why you shooting me?” to which the officer responds, “You had a gun.” The officer later tells other officers that Alvarez was armed and points to a gun on the ground.
In the roughly 15 seconds in which Alvarez remains lucid after being shot and with blood quickly soaking his clothes, he can be heard saying “I'm gonna die” as he struggles to look at his cellphone. And as in the Toledo shooting, officers rush to treat Alvarez's wounds, telling him, "I’m trying to help you. Stay with me dude.”
Alvarez's family, who saw the video Tuesday, said they were still waiting for answers to some basic questions, including what their loved one could have done to justify a foot chase that ended in his death.
“I can't believe he is gone. I just want some answers; why did they do this to Anthony?” ” Alvarez’s father, Oscar Martinez, said in a statement released Wednesday through the family's lawyers.
Although city and police officials didn't release details about the officer who shot Alvarez, a police report that COPA posted along with the video identified him as 29-year-old Evan Solano, a six-year veteran of the force.
Solano has been named in four complaints since 2017, according to data collected by the Invisible Institute, a Chicago-based group that tracks police misconduct. Two of the complaints involved allegations of improper searches. No outcomes of the complaints were listed. Solano also has filed 11 tactical response reports dating back to 2017. Of them, seven were for incidents involving people who were described as white Hispanic. In two of the 11, the subjects were armed. And in two, the subjects were listed as injured.
While the officer in the shooting of Toledo was put on paid administrative leave, as routinely happens after police shootings, COPA made a point of recommending that Solano “be relieved of police powers during the pendency of this investigation.” COPA spokesman Ephraim Eaddy wouldn't explain why the office recommended that Solano be stripped of his police powers already, but he conceded that it rarely makes such a recommendation so early in an investigation.