Police Abuse

Chicago Police Shooting Captured on Video Leads to Outrage, Dropped Charges

Man tackled, shot twice for crime of illegally shifting between train cars.

|

Two Chicago cops tackled and then shot a man under very suspicious circumstances. Fortunately, the incident was captured on video, leading to public outrage, an investigation, and dropped charges.

The video, recorded on Friday at the Grand Avenue Red Line Station, shows the tackled man struggling and refusing to let the officers arrest him. (Nothing in the video shows him trying to hurt the officers—just to get away from them.) After they failed to get him under control, a loud gunshot rings out.

The witness posted the video on Twitter:

The video prompted outrage. Once the context became more clear, it looked even worse for the two officers. The man, later identified as Ariel Roman, was being arrested because he violated a city ordinance against moving between two train cars.

That's it. The two officers, assigned to Chicago's mass transit unit, chased him and tackled him on the train platform. The shots were fired not as Roman was attempting to attack the officers but as he was getting away. He was shot twice, once in the abdomen, and once in the buttocks, according to his lawyer. He was in critical condition but is now recuperating.

Roman was charged with resisting arrest and narcotics possession. But once the video got out, Interim Police Superintendent Charlie Beck asked prosecutors to drop the case. On Sunday, prosecutors agreed. The two officers are on administrative duty, and the FBI has gotten involved in investigating the incident.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called the video footage "extremely disturbing," but USA Today notes that the shooting took place just hours after Lightfoot, the Chicago Police, and the Chicago Transit Authority announced plans to tackle crimes on public transit. Maybe they should have been a bit more specific about which crimes.

This encounter is exactly what troubles people when police announce enforcement actions on mass transit. We'd like to assume that police are tackling muggers and other people with violent or larcenous intentions. And perhaps the two cops suspected that Roman was bouncing from car to car because he was planning something bad. But they had no evidence Roman had actually done anything to victimize anybody else.

It's a familiar pattern. Politicians use fears of serious crimes to push through ordinances that criminalize all sorts of non-threatening behavior, and those are then used to justify police interventions. Whether or not serious crimes get prevented, we get a crackdown on petty offenses. Many people get harassed. And in this case, one gets shot.

Chicago Lodge 7 of the Fraternal Order of the Police has predictably slammed city leaders for being horrified by the shooting. Union president Kevin Graham asked on Facebook: "Why has the superintendent and the mayor not commented on the fact that not one individual assisted these officers during the struggle to place the offender clearly engaged in felony resisting into custody, an offender who once again failed to comply with police orders?"

Because they were afraid they'd get shot?

Advertisement

NEXT: "Once the Cat Is Out of the Bag, the Ball Game Is Over"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Saw that on the Daily Mail. Woman cop resorts to pointing her pistol and issuing commands. When dude fails to comply she shoots him.

    It’s all in the training.

    Zero Tolerance for noncompliance. Obey or die.

    Zero Tolerance for anything that could compromise officer safety. Feel threatened? Shoot.

    I don’t necessarily fault her. She just did what she was trained to do. If someone won’t obey her fat ass, use deadly force.

    1. “It’s all in the training.”

      Yes, indeed. This is why we have to indoctrinate children from birth to adulthood around age 30, in government schools. Charter schools, home schooling: terrible ideas which will let subjects think they can think, and that will lead to unnecessary suicides by children, depriving the State of their productivity. Luckily it won’t deprive wise elders of their votes.

    2. A different article I read quoted the male cop as telling her at least twice, “Shoot him.” Maybe her training is to do what men tell her no matter how pointless, unjustifiable, and morally depraved it is given the victim’s alleged offense.

    3. Moving between cars is illegal? Even if you’re doing something like, I dunno… looking for a seat?

  2. Fuck police unions. No public sector employee should be allowed to unionize against the citizenry. You want to live off of the taxpayer tit? Then negotiate your own salary.

    1. Public unions are a stain on the right to unionize.

      1. Public unions are a stain [Full Stop]

        FTFY

  3. Why has the superintendent and the mayor not commented on the fact that not one individual assisted these officers during the struggle to place the offender clearly engaged in felony resisting into custody, an offender who once again failed to comply with police orders?

    When you realize you’re an asshole nobody likes, speaking on behalf of an organization full of assholes nobody likes.

    1. A hero would have kicked the cops in the face.

    2. Omg. Can you imagine the police response to some random third party engaging in the struggle? They would have killed him.

      1. ^This.

      2. +1,000,000,000,000,000,000 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Wait, now it’s the responsibility of the onlookers to assist the police in shooting people for skipping between train cars. Because the penalty for skipping between train cars us death.

    1. Reminds me of a scene from the Venture Bros where the Monarch and his gf are showing around Baron von Unterbicht their base. Goes something along the lines of
      “and these are our prison cells, I’m sure you have ones much nicer in Unterland”
      ‘No, Unterland has no prisons.’
      “Um, well how progressive of you?”
      ‘In Unterland, all crimes are punishable by death.’

  5. “Why has the superintendent and the mayor not commented on the fact that not one individual assisted these officers during the struggle to place the offender clearly engaged in felony resisting into custody, an offender who once again failed to comply with police orders?”

    If you, as a highly-trained officer of the law, are unclear as to when you’re allowed to use deadly force on a non-compliant suspect, how am I, as a random by-stander, supposed to know the “offender” is “clearly” engaged in felony resisting? Hell, I didn’t even know resisting arrest was a felony. Unless I saw the guy actually committing a violent crime, I have no reason to believe the guy has committed any crime at all. Why the hell would I want to get involved in what is, as far as I know, a drunken bar brawl with at least two of the brawlers being armed? You want to know why people don’t just assume that the cops are the good guys in incidents like this? Because we’ve seen too goddamn much of this exact “respect my authoritah” sort of shit – both the original shooting and your response to it.

    1. Not to mention there’s a 50-50 chance the cops will assume you’re helping whatever poor bastard they’re assaulting, and will treat you accordingly. Lead poisoning, anyone?

    2. They always want to have it both ways. They’re highly-trained professionals who can’t be second-guessed and they’re also hapless, put-upon victims who need help from the same bystanders who are too stupid to criticize them.

  6. The police were tasked with reducing crime on the train.

    A drug dealer revealed himself by changing cars to avoid the cops. Changing cars is illegal precisely to give the cops probable cause to arrest criminals who are avoiding the police.

    So let’s not pretend that these cops aren’t doing exactly what the citizens want. This is a result of the drug war. Not the result of rogue cops.

    1. ” This is a result of the drug war. Not the result of rogue cops.”

      These two things are not mutually exclusive.

      1. One is cause. The other is effect.

        Claiming “rogue cops” absolves the people who are actually responsible of all culpability. He’s right. These two bozos are doing what they are paid to do. The problem came when they didn’t know how to handle someone who just flat wouldn’t comply (and from what I could see did not actually assault or threaten them in any way either, just wouldn’t comply). Moving directly to “kill that dude!” is a mistake, but there were a cascade of things that were all “on purpose” that lead up to a potentially lethal screw-up.

        Chief among those “on purpose” things is the ever expanding “set of tools” for the prosecution of the drug war. And that’s our fault. We vote for these ass-hats. We demand that someone “do something” about drug dealers. And stupidly, we don’t demand that the something that be done is legalizing getting high.

  7. …the shooting took place just hours after Lightfoot, the Chicago Police, and the Chicago Transit Authority announced plans to tackle crimes on public transit.

    Ha. Ouch. This will likely put this grand scheme under an uncomfortable spotlight.

  8. “Why has the superintendent and the mayor not commented on the fact that not one individual assisted these officers during the struggle to place the offender clearly engaged in felony resisting into custody, an offender who once again failed to comply with police orders?”

    Bwahahahahaha

    Graham is either being deliberately obtuse or merely deflecting responsibility. I have essentially never heard the police encourage civilian involvement in any of their arrests or other hijinks. Anything like that could lead to your own arrest or worse.

    1. They quite frequently request it after the fact in shootings though.

      I do remember one incident when an officer was really struggling – New Jersey I believe – and he actually called out to the people videoing him for help.

  9. When will hear from the Black and Blue Lives Matter crowd?

    1. Why would pain sluts get involved in this?

  10. Still waiting on that Afghanistan story. Or are we just gonna pretend that didn’t happen, like the rest of the media?

    1. Afghanistan? I thought that was yesterday.

    2. they’re waiting to get footage of an overused helicopter being pushed off the deck of an amphibious assault ship…the last flight out thing

  11. The best part is the way the female cop points her gun at the male cop as he’s trying to cuff the guy.

    1. Why that thing ever left the holster is beyond me. Where was the taser?

      Also, did they pepper spray the dude? He was rubbing his eyes like he had been sprayed directly in the eyes.

  12. Dumbass female cop took her first shot with her partner standing behind the “perp”. Accidental discharge, maybe? Second round sure wasn’t. Who the fuck gave that woman a badge and a fiream?

  13. Not a good shoot, obviously. These are not the people you want on any police force. I can’t really tell what the suspect is doing, or why the male officer instructed the female officer at least twice to shoot the suspect, or while the female officer finally did shoot him.

  14. With that settlement money the perp will be able to afford a much larger buy. Getting roughed up by the CPD is the new “one easy trick” to get rich.

  15. All these police shootings of apparently unthreatening victims are just one thing: enforcement of charges (by the police) for protection. The victims are drug dealers who “owe” the police some part of their revenues for being allowed to ply their trade. When such “debtors” fail (in the eyes of their creditors) to keep up their payments, they are shot, in their dozens, as reminders to other “debtors,” in their thousands, to keep up their own payments.
    That’s all, all this, is. End the drug war.

    1. say now, is that guy Capone still running Chicago’s Machine? Sure sounds like it. Or maybe its Mayor Daley’s time again?

  16. I noticed the FB post by the police union president was deleted. Shock.

  17. Because they were afraid they’d get shot?

    or arrested as agents of the “criminal” being arrested?

    Or maybe accused of accessories to the “crime” for which the victim was being arrested?

    Nah, catching the video live was the right thing to do. Looks like he was a safe enough distance away to not be immediately implicated as a co-conspirator.
    And look at what has happened. Two of Chicago’s “finest” are now in deep doo doo, and it smells great on them.

  18. I’m trying to imagine if this video would have gotten much, if any play, had the two cops not been incompetent doughboy and doughgirl. Would anyone have batted an eye if this guy had been taken down, quickly subdued, and then dragged off in handcuffs?

    Objectively it would have been almost as outrageous (granted, not getting two gunshots is arguably a better outcome) but would anyone have batted an eye?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.