After years of steady declines, officer-involved shootings rise again in Chicago

A Chicago police officer draws her handgun (left) moments before she shoots the man at center. | @FreeRangeCritic on Twitter

Update 6:38PM – This afternoon, Chicago police shot a 19-year-old man who opened fire on two officers as they investigated a “suspicious person” call in Little Village, a CPD spokesperson said. The man is the fifth person shot by on-duty Chicago police officers in 2020. Our original report from earlier today follows.

Friday afternoon’s police shooting of a man in the Grand Red Line station was the fourth on-duty shooting by Chicago cops this year. And, after years of steady declines, the pace of CPD shootings this year is on the rise.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the officer’s decision to shoot an apparently unarmed man, “potential[ly] criminal.” The FBI has launched a criminal investigation in addition to the city’s standard Civilian Office of Police Accountability probe.

Video posted online shows officers pepper-sprayed the man and deployed at least one Taser before an officer shoots him at the base of a subway escalator. The man then heads up the escalator and a second gunshot is heard as the two officers follow behind him.

One shot struck the man in the abdomen. The other in the buttocks, according to his attorney, Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez.

Last year, on-duty Chicago officers shot ten people in the line of duty. That was by far the fewest number of police-involved shootings in more than a decade. And 2019 was the eighth consecutive year to show a decline in police shootings.

One particularly concerning aspect of Friday’s shooting: The two involved officers have each been on the force for little more than two years. While that gives them relatively little on-street experience, it also means their academy training involved the latest in de-escalation and use of force training.

One year ago a CPD spokesperson pointed to that training as one of the key factors driving down officer-involved shooting incidents.

“This new training also includes more scenario-based instruction and a cultural awareness training at The DuSable Museum of African American History for police recruits to delve into topics such as the history of African Americans in Chicago,” CPD’s Howard Ludwig said at the time.

“The latest revision of CPD’s Use of Force policy dates back to October 2017 and places the utmost emphasis on the sanctity of human life,” he said.

The use of force policy change was accompanied by a new emphasis on the use of force training, crisis de-escalation training, and community building at the Chicago police academy beginning that same year, according to Ludwig.

Police shootings hit a record low in Chicago last year, with 10 persons shot by on-duty CPD officers, according to data maintained by HeyJackass.com, a site that compiles Chicago violence statistics from public records, media reports, and its own independent monitoring of police activity.

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But now, just two months into the new year, the department has logged four on-duty officer-involved shootings. The increase in police-involved incidents comes as the city’s homicide and shooting numbers are also on the rise.

Through Feb. 20, homicides are up 45% compared to last year, CPD said in a media release early Sunday. Non-fatal shootings were up 34% during the same time.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com