Ariel Roman, the unarmed man who was shot twice by a Chicago police officer at the Grand Red Line station on Feb. 28, has filed suit against the city and both cops who were directly involved in the incident.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court Wednesday, accuses the city of assigning officers with little experience, improper training, and poor supervision to the police department’s Mass Transit Unit.
“Untrained, unqualified, inexperienced officers were put in a crowded public place,” said Greg Kulis, one of Roman’s attorneys.”
And the suit points out that the officer who shot Roman had been arrested and charged with assaulting McDonald’s drive-thru employee less than two years before the city hired her to become a cop. CWBChicago reported exclusively on officer Melvina Bogard’s alleged run-in with the fast food worker last week. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Bogard when the 19-year-old woman who filed the complaint failed to appear in court.
Bogard and her partner, Bernard Butler, each joined the force in late 2017, according to the police department. The lawsuit claims their relative lack of experience contributed to the shooting.
Bogard and Butler encountered 33-year-old Roman as he crossed between train cars in violation of city ordinance around 4 p.m., but they never tried to issue him a citation or asked for his identification, the suit claims.
Instead, the officers “chased” Roman onto the subway platform at Grand and “jumped on his back,” according to the suit.
“They wrestled him to the ground by grabbing him from behind,” said Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez, another of Roman’s lawyers. “They tased him twice, they pepper sprayed him in the face, and then they went ahead and shot him.”
The ensuing struggle unfolded amid “confusion” that was caused by the officers themselves, according to the suit.
Video of the incident posted online shows Butler yelling for Bogard to “shoot” Roman with pepper spray. Later, Butler again “gave the command to ‘SHOOT HIM’ which Bogard in fact thereafter shot [Roman] in the stomach,” the suit alleges.
A CPD arrest report, republished by CWBChicago last week, alleged that Bogard suffered lacerations to both hands and a swollen lip in the struggle with Roman. Butler sustained lacerations to his left and right hands, a bruise to his nose, and swelling to the right knee, the report claimed.
But the lawsuit alleges that Roman “never attempted to strike or attack” the officers.
“This incident is yet another example of the continuing injustice and maltreatment of minority citizens by CPD officers,” the complaint states. Bogard and Butler are both black. Roman is Hispanic.
Attorneys for Roman specifically accuse Bogard of two counts of excessive force and two counts of battery for the shooting. Butler is accused of failing to intervene and provocation.
The suit does not seek a specific amount of damages, but states that Roman, “suffered extreme pain and suffering, economic and non-economic losses, emotional distress, fear and loss of enjoyment of life, and permanent debilitating injuries.”
Chicago Police Interim Supt. Charlie Beck stripped both officers of their police powers last week, hours after the Civilian Office of Police Accountability recommended the move. They continue to be employed by the department.
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