Videos of fatal Chicago police shootout to be released today: ‘It’s not the things that you’ve been told,’ top cop says

CHICAGO — The city will release videos today related to the death of Dexter Reed, the 26-year-old officials said was killed in an “exchange of gunfire” with Chicago police officers during a traffic stop in Humboldt Park last month.

Last night, CPD Supt. Larry Snelling told a public forum that “there are always issues” when police shoot someone, but the footage is “not the things that you’ve been told” on social media, an apparent reference to claims made on Twitter over the weekend by former mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green.

Five Chicago cops assigned to the Harrison (11th) District pulled Reed over for a traffic stop in the 3800 block of West Ferdinand on March 21, according to a preliminary summary released four days later by COPA, the agency that investigates lethal use of force by CPD.

Dexter Reed in a 2023 mugshot and, at right, a Chicago Police Department vehicle damaged during the shootout that killed him. (Chicago Police Department, @CPD1617Scanner)

The officers approached Reed’s vehicle while giving him verbal commands. According to COPA, an exchange of gunfire ensued between Reed and the officers positioned on both sides of his vehicle. An officer suffered a gunshot wound to the wrist during the shootout.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) told the Sun-Times that he was informed that Reed fired 11 shots at police through his car window. Hopkins chairs the City Council Public Safety Committee.

A ShotSpotter in the area reportedly detected 51 rounds fired at the time of the shootout. In video recorded from a distance, the sound of gunfire is unmistakable.

Photographs from the scene secured by the CPD1617 Scanner account showed more than 20 bullet holes in the side of Reed’s SUV. A second picture showed five bullet holes in the windshield of a Chicago police vehicle. We don’t know if shots fired inside or outside the CPD vehicle caused the damage.

Reed was on pretrial release for a felony gun case at the time of the shooting.

Snelling told the audience at Monday evening’s town hall that “the first thing I did” upon hearing about the shooting was to order the department’s Incident Response Team to gather every piece of video it could find.

He suggested that the department would present the video to the public with a narrative explaining its interpretation of what happened. 

“We’re going to give you context,” Snelling promised.

Some police departments release video packages after officer-involved shootings, slowing and freezing the footage at critical moments, and providing explanations of what is shown.

The Los Angeles Police Department has an entire webpage dedicated to such videos, but CPD has never adopted the practice.

Snelling insisted that social media posts that popped up over the weekend ahead of the video release were created “without all the facts.”

“What I’m not going to do is sit here and frame everyone’s mind,” Snelling said, adding, “but it’s not the things that you’ve been told.

“There are things that were omitted [on social media],” the top cop claimed.

Snelling did not refer to any specific posts or accounts during his comments, but Green posted, then deleted, at least two tweets about the video on Saturday, calling Reed’s death “an execution on video” and warning about possible riots.

After receiving pushback about inflammatory language and a lack of proof, Green deleted the posts and replaced them with a more straightforward version, saying he “received calls from Chicago officials.”

During Monday’s forum, at least three audience members referred to details tweeted by Green as they expressed outrage and demanded justice.

One woman rattled off many claims Green made about the videos and then suggested Reed’s decision to shoot at the police may have been justified because, “you can’t tell they a police officer, you can shoot.”

After saying over the weekend that he would let the video speak for itself, Green fired off a series of tweets about the footage minutes after Snelling’s town hall ended.

“I have FIRST hand information. Not second, or third,” Green claimed. Over the weekend, Green said he had been “briefed” on the video contents.

“How did you get first hand information, Ja’Mal?” Hopkins, the alderman, replied. Green did not answer him.

Reed’s family and their attorney did not see the footage until yesterday. They plan to speak to the media today after COPA’s release.

Green’s tweets on Monday were not about an “execution” or impending riots but rather things he believes the videos will show that, in his opinion, are improper. The first item on his list was that the officers were in plain clothes, seemingly echoing the woman who spoke at Snelling’s town hall.

He questioned why police approached Reed, suggested Reed’s rights were violated, and claimed “everyone will ask why did they shoot him so many times.”

Refusing to go into specifics, two CWBChicago sources familiar with the videos said their greatest concern was with something that happened after Reed had been gravely wounded. One of the sources said the department was “not happy” about it.

“Are there issues?” Snelling asked while speaking about the video. “There are always issues. There was a loss of life.”

“I don’t want to see anybody lose their lives,” he continued. “When we get to this point, something has gone wrong.”

At least twice during last night’s meeting, Snelling told the crowd that he was determined to reduce the number of traffic stops performed by CPD officers. As of yesterday, there were 46,000 fewer traffic stops this year than during the same period in 2023, Snelling claimed. At the same time, he said, there has been a 40% increase in felony and gun arrests.

CPD performed 537,000 traffic stops last year, WTTW reported. If Snelling’s claim is true and the pace is maintained, the department will see a 32% reduction in traffic stops this year.

“We still have some work to do, and I’m working on it,” Snelling assured the audience. “This is a commitment that I’m making to make sure that we get a handle on this situation.”

On another topic, Snelling said he’s going to make sure the department does a better job of telling the public about the good things it does and the lives officers save.

He suggested putting a “collage together” that would put “on display” the times CPD officers use tourniquets and QuikClot, a dressing used to control severe bleeding in the field.

“We cannot have a narrative that our officers are out there destroying communities,” Snelling said as the meeting drew to a close.

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About Tim Hecke 300 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com