Chicago — Prosecutors say a veteran Chicago police officer who was stripped of his police powers while facing allegations of excessive use of force continued to work as a Chicago Public Schools security guard and threatened to shoot a student at George Westinghouse College Prep.
A video of the altercation between the 17-year-old student and 50-year-old Chavez Siler went viral in November 2021. On Thursday, prosecutors filed felony charges against Siler.
Siler was stripped of police powers on July 6, 2021, on allegations that he beat a man unconscious with his firearm while on duty in March 2017, Assistant State’s Attorney JohnNetta Byers said. That incident was captured on surveillance video:
According to Byers, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office only learned about the 2017 incident after the new allegations from Westhinghouse High School were brought to their attention. She claimed that by then, the statute of limitations had run out.
Siler continued to work as a part-time security guard at Westinghouse even after he was stripped of his police powers, according to Byers. He was stationed at the school’s main entrance on November 16, 2021, when a 17-year-old senior and three friends attempted to exit through the door to pick up an Uber Eats order.
He told the group that policy required them to use a different door and said the group “would be playing with their life” if they tried to use the wrong exit, Byers alleged.
The senior and one of the other students started walking toward the other door while arguing with Siler, who proceeded to follow the pair, according to Byers.
When the students reached the door Siler directed them to, the senior turned around and “found himself face-to-face” with Siler, who grabbed the teen’s wrist. The pair grappled, and Siler held the boy against the wall, sometimes pressing his forearm against the student’s neck, Byers said.
During the confrontation, Siler — under CPD orders not to carry a weapon while stripped — dropped a firearm to the ground, Byers continued.
He picked it up and, while still pinning the boy and holding the gun, allegedly said, “Don’t do it. I will shoot you. I will shoot you.” Siler then handed the weapon to another security guard.
CPS security cameras and several bystanders recorded the incident. Some of the footage went viral. Watch:
Siler and the student were separated by school personnel.
Prosecutors charged Siler with aggravated battery, illegal use of a weapon, and official misconduct, all of which are felonies.
Private defense attorney Brian Sexton said Siler, a CPD officer since 2007, has worked security at Westinghouse since 2010 and is also a graduate of the school.
Sexton told Judge Maryam Ahmad that “what really happened” was that the students tried to use a door that “is for special needs students only” and there is “a clear school policy for special needs students.”
Ahmad interrupted him.
“Mr. Sexton. I’m going to stop you there,” said the judge. “I understand what you’re indicating. But the victim is not before this court charged with multiple felonies.”
Sexton stated that no gun had been recovered in the Westinghouse incident. He said Siler has been married for 27 years and has four grown children.
Ahmad ordered Siler to pay a $500 bail deposit to get out of jail. She also ordered him not to possess any weapons while on bail.
CWBChicago has contacted Chicago Public Schools to learn more about Siler’s employment and the state’s allegations. We are awaiting the school district’s reply.