Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the family of Anthony Alvarez asked for “those who wish to express themselves do so peacefully and with respect for our communities and the residents of Chicago.”
Video released Wednesday morning 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.
Anthony 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.
A camera mounted to the home feet from where Alvarez collapsed shows a gun fall from his hand as he fell 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, who was struck multiple times, was pronounced dead at Illinois Masonic Medical Center.
CPD 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 said it has recommended the officer who shot Alvarez be relieved of police powers during the investigation.
The 30-year-old officer 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.
Lightfoot and attorneys representing the Alvarez family issued a joint statement Wednesday morning that called for peace.
“Both parties are acutely aware of the range of emotions that will accompany the release of these materials, and we collectively issue this statement and ask that those who wish to express themselves do so peacefully and with respect for our communities and the residents of Chicago,” the statement said.
“The Alvarez family … has advised that they believe that the release of these videos will be the beginning of a long process of healing for the family, and for all those who knew and loved Anthony,” the statement said.
“COPA’s investigation is ongoing, and both parties expect and have the utmost confidence that officials will determine the complete and unbiased set of facts in this case. … We ask that all continue to respect the Alvarez family’s right to privacy as they grieve during this incredibly painful time.”
Alvarez’s family saw the video footage Tuesday.
“I want more answers, the videos I saw do not explain what I saw in the morgue,” Veronica Alvarez, Anthony’s mother, told Fox32 Chicago in Spanish on Tuesday. “I want to know why they were chasing him. As of now, I don’t have answers.”
Todd Pugh, an attorney for the family, told the station that “it was incredibly difficult, it was an absolutely chilling scene, and as his mother indicated already, it has left us with more questions than answers.
“But I know what I saw, and I saw Chicago police officers shoot their son as he ran away from them,” Pugh said.
The shooting happened two days after an officer shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo on March 29 in Little Village. Toledo’s killing also happened during a foot chase, prompting Lightfoot to direct the police department to draft a new foot pursuit policy.
“For the second time in weeks, the people of Chicago are presented with video footage of a young Latino man being shot and killed by police during a foot pursuit. Again, a family suffers as the Alvarez family experiences the grief and pain of witnessing the last moments of a loved one,” Colleen Connell, executive director of ACLU of Illinois, said in a prepared statement.
”The lack of meaningful police reform in Chicago is not only costing the city lives, but also taking a psychological toll on communities of color. The city must abandon the current snail’s pace of police reform and become serious about making real changes that serve all neighborhoods.”
The mayor said Wednesday that CPD “is making progress on my 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.
Contributing: David Struett