Video shows Chicago cop struggling for control of gun after man disarms him, fires shots

CHICAGO — Newly acquired video from a Chicago police officer’s body camera shows a routine “suspicious person” call turned into a struggle for the cop’s life when a trespasser took the officer’s gun and fired two shots as the men struggled to control the weapon on a Lincoln Park sidewalk.

The footage provides an up-close look as the men grapple for the weapon, and a CPD dispatcher complains that she can’t understand what the struggling officer is saying due to the city’s low-quality radio system.

It all began when two residents called 911 after hearing a noise outside their home in the 2100 block of North Cleveland around 8:50 p.m. on March 10, the same day the local police district switched over to the city’s new encrypted radio system.

A two-person patrol car responded to the call, as did another officer, a 50-year-old man who joined the force in 2000. He was working alone.

The solo officer’s body camera, secured by CWBChicago through a Freedom of Information request, showed the officer searching yards, gangways, and a construction site before he discovered the source of the noise: a man hanging out between two homes.

“You gotta get outta there, come on,” the cop orders.

But prosecutors later said the man, identified as 29-year-old Thomas Tucker, took a “crouching position” and maintained that position as he walked toward the cop at an “accelerated pace.” They said he spoke about taking the cop’s gun while raising a rock over his head.

The footage shows a man emerging from the gangway with something in his right hand. As the officer extends an arm to maintain distance, he tells the man to stay back. Then it all goes south.

A portion of the video that the city provided, starting with the officer finding Tucker in the gangway, is shared below. Note that CPD said it blurred portions of the video and removed some audio to protect witnesses and victims.

About 70 seconds into the video, the officer asks a dispatcher to send backup.

“Unit coming in? I’m sorry. The radios are not good,” the dispatcher replies.

The officer, grappling with Tucker, doesn’t have a chance to repeat himself.

At the 1:25 mark, you’ll hear him yell an expletive and then two muffled gunshots as his weapon fires.

The fight rages on as the dispatcher is heard asking if any officers have an emergency.

Finally, a little more than a minute after the gunshots, the cop manages to free a hand to activate his radio while using his other hand to keep his pistol from being used against him.

“1812 EMERGENCY ON CLEVELAND!” he screams.

About 90 seconds after the shots were fired, the dispatcher began relaying information from 911 callers who reported the gunfire.

And, after a two-minute fight, the officer regains control of his gun, and Tucker runs away.

Witnesses directed backup officers to a nearby yard, where Tucker allegedly tried to move toward another officer’s gun before being restrained about 20 minutes later. The officer was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center with bite wounds and abrasions.

Tucker remains jailed in lieu of a $30,000 bail deposit. He’s charged with disarming a police officer, aggravated battery of a peace officer, aggravated assault of a peace officer, reckless discharge of a firearm, and resisting police.

The city’s new encrypted radio system is designed to keep the general public from hearing police radio traffic. When CPD began transitioning to the secure network, Mayor Lori Lightfoot insisted that the project was necessary for officers’ safety.

Lightfoot refused to allow live monitoring of police transmissions by the public and credentialed media outlets. Instead, the city partnered with a third party, which streams encrypted radio traffic on a 30-minute delay.

While campaigning in December, newly-elected Mayor Brandon Johnson said he would make police radio traffic available to media outlets.

Encryption “makes public safety more difficult for everyone involved—media, [violence] interrupters and even police, whose work is complemented by these entities,” Johnson said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

He has not followed through on his promise.

Original reporting you’ll see nowhere else, paid for by our readers. Click here to support our work.

About CWBChicago 6801 Articles
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