Chicago’s police oversight agency, COPA, released documents Thursday showing recently-departed Chicago Police Supt. David Brown concurred with their recommendation that an officer involved in the events leading up to the fatal police shooting of Anthony Alvarez should be fired for years-old allegations of off-duty intoxication, firearm discharge, domestic violence, and other violations.
A previously-concluded COPA investigation found that Officer Sammy Encarnacion initiated the March 31, 2021, foot pursuit of Alvarez, but his partner eventually passed him and later shot Alvarez, who was carrying a gun. Both officers were suspended for 20 days last summer.
Nine days after the police board handed down the suspensions, Encarnacion fired his gun during another on-duty incident in Jefferson Park, NBC5 reported.
Now, the newly-released documents show that Encarnacion had been under investigation since November 2017 for a host of allegations, including that he fired his gun out his apartment window. But COPA did not complete its probe until May 2022, a year after Alvarez was shot and more than four years after their investigation began.
Encarnacion was put in no-pay status last Saturday, a Chicago police spokesperson said, days before the COPA documents became public.
COPA concluded that Encarnacion should be terminated for each of the 17 allegations it found were sustained by the agency’s investigation. Brown, the former CPD superintendent, signed a letter of concurrence with COPA’s recommendations on August 3 last year.
The 2017 investigation began after Encarnacion’s ex-girlfriend made allegations of off-duty misconduct.
“She began to notice his ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ personality, in that when he was nice and kind when he was sober but would become verbally and physically abusive when he drank alcohol,” the report said.
When Encarnacion drank too much, “he would pull his gun out, wave it around, and sometimes, point it at her and/or himself. [She] related that PO Encarnacion would always leave his gun on the table, so she started hiding the guns from him,” the report continued.
The COPA report includes photographs of Encarnacion passed out on the floor on five different dates, including one time when he was wearing his Chicago police vest. Encarnacion told COPA he didn’t know that photos were taken of him, and he denied being intoxicated while lying on the floor in his uniform vest, according to the COPA report.
While they were still dating in June 2016, the woman and Encarnacion argued about his drinking habits, the report alleged: “Encarnacion pulled his gun out and pointed it at her. [She] told PO Encarnacion that the gun was loaded, and he insisted that it was not. PO Encarnacion pointed the gun towards the window and pulled the trigger. [She] reported that the bullet went through the window. [She] took a picture of the damaged window and submitted it to COPA.”
The woman told COPA that Encarnacion never reported the gunshot and did not tell his landlord, another Chicago police officer, about what happened. The report said the landlord told COPA he didn’t know about a gun being discharged in his building, and he never repaired a window with a bullet hole.
Encarnacion denied that he fired his gun out the window and said it is possible the woman did.
The report details several allegations of verbal abuse and physical violence, including a time when Encarnacion allegedly pushed the woman down and dragged her across the floor of his apartment when she came over to check on him. Another woman, whom Encarnacion said he had been seeing for a few months, was in the apartment at the time, the report said.
COPA said Encarnacion’s ex immediately reported the altercation at a local police station and went to a hospital for treatment of swelling, a bump on her head, a bruise on her hip, and a scratched neck.
When COPA asked Encarnacion why he didn’t call 911 when his ex showed up, he “stated that he had a negative experience with the 017th District and referred to two prior domestic incidents when he called the police.”
A video from October 18, 2017, “depicts PO Encarnacion wearing his Chicago Police Star around his neck while holding an open bottle of wine in his left hand and a gun in his right hand. He placed the barrel of the gun in his mouth, placed the wine bottle on the table, used his left hand to rack the gun and then pulled the trigger. PO Encarnacion then stated words to the effect of, ‘I wish there was a fucking bullet in here.’ PO Encarnacion continues drinking from the wine bottle as he waved his gun around. Towards the end of the video clip, he displayed his CPD name tag in front of the camera. PO Encarnacion appeared to be intoxicated in that his speech was slurred, he was swaying from side-to-side, and drinking from a wine bottle,” said the report.
The report said other videos show Encarnacion standing on his ex’s car, carrying a hammer while screaming and speaking with slurred speech, as he ordered her to get off his family’s property in Waukegan.
“I have a legal right to smash your car right now,” he allegedly said at one point, holding a hammer over his head.
COPA’s investigators concluded that Encarnacion’s misconduct “demonstrates a lack of judgement [sic] and self-control that cannot be tolerated. An officer who behaves in such a manner not only brings discredit upon the Department, but also is a risk to public safety. Thus, COPA recommends he be separated from the Department.”
The Chicago Police Board is now responsible for deciding if Encarnacion should be terminated.
Asked to explain why COPA’s investigation took years to complete, the agency’s First Deputy Chief Administrator, Ephraim Eaddy, released this written statement:
As the agency responsible for investing complaints of misconduct of Chicago police officers, COPA receives over 5000 complaints a year that are reviewed to determine jurisdiction and if they will be retained by our agency or forwarded to the appropriate entity.
All investigations are of significant importance and may have their own set of challenges.The complexity of this investigation is reflected in the dozens of allegations against the officer that required a thorough review and unique circumstances regarding the officer’s availability.
Within the first week of COPA receiving the initial complaint in this investigation, COPA sent a request for behavioral intervention to the Chicago Police Department reflecting its concerns about the accused officer, requested that he be mandated to be evaluated and summarized the nature of the allegations in COPA’s investigation.
COPA strives to conduct timely investigations and prioritize cases to bring closure to both complainant and officer and believe our recent efforts in some high profile incidents demonstrate our commitment.