COPA employee under investigation for firing gun while trying to recover his stolen car

A man who works for the city agency that investigates allegations of misconduct by Chicago police officers is now under investigation himself after he allegedly fired a handgun at two men while trying to reclaim his stolen car Sunday morning, according to CPD, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), and a source.

Chicago cops heard gunfire near the 1300 block of South Central Park around 5:30 a.m. Sunday and began following a vehicle that was leaving the area of the shots. ShotSpotter gunfire detectors identified three gunshots on that block at the same time.

Police pulled the car over and interviewed the 39-year-old driver. The man, who reportedly works as a COPA investigator and as an auxiliary police officer for a west suburb, is a concealed carry license holder, according to Chicago police.

The COPA employee told police that he saw two people getting into his stolen vehicle on the 1300 block of South Central Park and he fired two shots at the men who then fled in the stolen car, according to a CPD spokesperson. Chicago police detectives are investigating.

It is not known if anyone was struck by the gunfire, the spokesperson said. CPD referred all other questions to COPA.

A source said the car had been stolen from the COPA employee’s son, possibly in a carjacking. The son’s cellphone was still in the car and the COPA employee followed pings from the phone to located the vehicle on Central Park, according to the source.

In a statement, COPA said Chicago police notified them that once of the agency’s employees fired a weapon early Sunday “during an encounter with an unknown individual.”

COPA is reviewing the incident and will hold the employee accountable if misconduct occurred, the agency said.

A source said the COPA employee also serves as an auxiliary officer for a suburban police department. Auxiliary officers in the suburb are “paid, part-time officers who carry guns and help with traffic duty, crowd control, and writing tickets,” according to a 2011 report by the Better Government Association.

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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