Chicago officer who shot gun-wielding Anthony Alvarez fired months after shooting

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CHICAGO, IL – Chicago police officer Evan Solano has been terminated for firing shots that killed 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez in March who was holding a gun, officials confirmed Monday.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability recommended two months ago that Officer Solano have his gun and badge taken from him after the shooting death of Alvarez in Portage Park. 

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown was asked why it took three months to strip the officer’s powers after the COPA made the recommendation. He said that he requested additional information from COPA before acting. 

Although not stripped of his powers, the officer has been on administrative leave since the March 31 shooting, standard practice in an officer-involved shooting. He has not been criminally charged with any crime involving the shooting.

Alvarez was fatally shot by Solano during a foot pursuit. Police said at the time that Alvarez was armed with a handgun during the incident.

 

Video shows  22-year-old Alvarez fleeing from police with his back turned, appearing to have a gun when Solano fatally shot him.

John Catanzara, president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, defended the officer’s actions, saying he followed proper police policy:

“The rules of engagement are clear and this officer followed them.”

COPA released body camera video of the shooting. In two graphic videos, each more than 12 minutes long, a pair of officers, including Solano, are engaged in a foot pursuit of Alvarez.

One video is from Solano’s body camera, and the second video is from a surveillance camera that captured the shooting.

Alvarez trips while rounding a corner. Solano can be heard on the video shouting, ”Drop the gun! Drop the gun!”

The officer then fired his sidearm five times, striking Alvarez, who appeared to then drop a gun.

Alvarez can be heard on the video saying. “Why are you shooting me?”

Saolano responds, “You had a gun!”

Alvarez remained conscious for about 15 seconds after the shooting, and could be heard telling officers, “I’m gonna die.”

Officers attempted to provide medical care for Alvarez, with the officer telling him:

“I’m trying to help you. Stay with me, dude.”

In a summary of the incident released shortly after the shooting, COPA wrote:

“Mr. Alvarez fled as officers approached, leading to a foot pursuit by the officers. During the brief foot pursuit, officers made verbal commands to Mr. Alvarez to drop the weapon. A Chicago Police Officer fired his weapon multiple times, fatally injuring Mr. Alvarez.”

In an extraordinary change from normal protocol, COPA recommended that the officer “be relieved of police powers during the pendency of this investigation.”

COPA did not explain the reason for calling for stripping the officer of his powers so early in the investigation. Normally, an officer would be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation involving a police shooting.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) criticized the COPA for releasing to the media the recommendation to strip Solano of his police powers during the investigation before sending it to Brown.

The criticism led to the resignation of COPA Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts in May.

Solano was the subject of a second investigation following a road rage incident on May 21, which was captured on video by a bystander.

Video of the incident shows a man, who appears to be Solano, in a police uniform holding a gun in his hand arguing with another man standing several feet away at an intersection.

Prompted by the shooting of Alvarez and the shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in another unrelated incident, Chicago has instituted a new foot pursuit policy. 

Under the police department’s new interim policy, a foot pursuit is only considered appropriate if there is probable cause for an arrest, or if an individual has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime or endanger the public.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement:

“Because foot pursuits are one of the most dangerous actions that police officers can engage in, we cannot afford to wait any longer to put a policy in place that regulates them.”

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Here’s the truth: Bodycam video of fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo released to public

April 16, 2021

 

CHICAGO, IL – Chicago police released body camera footage of the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy who ran from police armed with a handgun. The video shows an officer making a split-second decision to fire as the boy turned toward him in an alley.

The March 29 footage released through the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability shows the an officer chasing Adam Toledo down an alley after responding to a call for shots fired in the area.

A police incident report identified the officer as 34-year-old Eric Stillman, who has served the Chicago Police Department since August 2015.

Police said officers were dispatched to the Little Village neighborhood in the early morning hours after the city’s ShotSpotter technology detected eight gunshots in the area. When police arrived, Toledo and 21-year-old Ruben Roman fled.

Video obtained by police from a surveillance camera in the area captured Roman allegedly firing the shots that were detected by the ShotSpotter system. Roman was arrested by another officer at the scene.

As an officer chased Toledo, the officer can be heard on the video shouting at the boy:

“Stop right f—ing now. Hands — show me your f—ing hands now. Drop it!”

The boy stops running and stood with his right hand holding what appeared to be a handgun concealed against a fence as the officer tells Toledo to “drop it.”

The officer repeats the command just as the child begins to turn toward the officer. Toledo puts up both hands just as the officer fired one shot.

In surveillance video from a parking lot also released by police, Toledo appeared to toss something behind the fence immediately before turning to face the officer. Police later recovered a handgun from behind the fence believed to have been tossed by Toledo.

After firing the shot, Toledo grabbed his chest and fell to the ground. The officer immediately radioed for an ambulance and began giving first aid to the youth.

The officer shouted to other officers while giving aid:

“I need a medical kit…. Hurry up.”

The officer also talked to the boy, who had his eyes open and was bleeding from the mouth. The officer told the boy:

“Stay with me.”

About one minute after shooting, the officer began giving the child CPR.

Officer Stillman has been placed on 30 days administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Roman was held on $150,000 bond and faces felony charges of unlawful use of reckless discharge of a firearm. He was also charged with child endangerment and violating his probation.

Police released an uncommonly abundant amount of video of the incident including 17 bodycam videos, four third-party videos, a transmission from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, two audio recordings of 911 calls, six ShotSpotter recordings, as well as response and arrest reports.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) and other officials have given numerous different accounts as to whether Toledo was holding a gun when he was shot, showing the difficulty of making the determination even when watching the video.

The Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy initially claimed in court that Toledo had a gun in his hand when he was shot, but Cook County State’s Attorney spokesperson Sarah Sinovic later said:

“An attorney who works in this office failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court. Errors like that cannot happen and this has been addressed with the individual involved. The video speaks for itself.”

Mayor Lightfoot called for calm upon release of the video:

“We acknowledge that the release of this video is the first step in the process toward the healing of the family, the community and our city. We understand that the release of this video will be incredibly painful and elicit an emotional response to all who view it, and we ask that people express themselves peacefully.”

Despite calls for calm by the Mayor and the family of Toledo while the investigation continued into the shooting, Radical left-wing Progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (D-NY) latched onto the initial misstatement by Attorney Murphy as evidence of an attempt to cover up the shooting:

“The prosecutor did not ‘make an error.’ He lied. He lied about the police killing a child.

“An entire system … exists to protect, defend, and cover-up state violence.”

The Chicago Police Union is standing by the officer, calling the shooting “justified.” FOP President John Catanzara said the officer was “100 percent right” to shoot the suspect:

“There’s no way the officer could see where his arm went when it went behind that fence panel that was totally blocked by the fence itself.

“We do not have to wait to be shot to respond. The officer had every reason to believe that that offender was turning and pointing the gun at him. … You can Monday morning quarterback and all you want, but according to Illinois statute, you only need to have a reasonable belief in order to take deadly action.”

Catanzara said that any reasonable person in a similar situation with the same responsibilities as the officer would have done the same:

“No person in the right mind would not say that they would have been in fear of their life in that same situation, and less than one second to react on whether that gun was still there or not.

“The offender still turned with a gun in his hand. This occurred in eight-tenths of a second. Time-lapse video shows that that officer had eight-tenths of a second to determine if that weapon was still in his hand or not. Period.

“There’s no way a rational person can say they can process that and their muscle reaction would be less than one second. The officer does not have to wait to be shot at or shot in order to respond and defend himself. There is no obligation whatsoever.”

 

 

 

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