Chicago, IL – The Chicago police officer who fatally shot an armed suspect during a foot pursuit in March has been stripped of his police powers.
Chicago Police Officer Evan Solano, 30, has been relieved of his duties while the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) continues to investigate the officer-involved shooting death of 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
CPD Superintendent David Brown confirmed the officer’s status during an unrelated press conference on Monday.
“I’m going to defer until the investigation is complete but obviously we asked for additional information from COPA,” Superintended Brown said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “We received that and reviewed it and we’ve stripped him of his police powers.”
COPA said in a press release on April 28 that it recommended the officer who shot Alvarez “be relieved of police powers during the pendency of this investigation.”
Stripping an officer of their police powers before an investigation is completed is very unusual.
The 29-year-old officer has been with the department since 2015, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the shooting occurred after “a minor traffic offense,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“We can’t live in a world where a minor traffic offense results in someone being shot and killed,” Lightfoot told reporters on April 28. “That’s not acceptable to me and shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone.”
Despite the mayor’s statement, video footage of the incident shows that the suspect was not shot for committing a traffic offense.
The incident occurred in the early morning hours of March 31, after Chicago police spotted Alvarez in the parking lot of a gas station in the Portage Park neighborhood, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Security footage showed Alvarez running across the parking lot, dropping items along the way, as police pulled in and began chasing him.
Bodycam footage showed the suspect running down a sidewalk as officers chased after him on foot.
As they closed in on him in the 5200-block of West Eddy Street, Alvarez ran through a residential yard.
“Hey! Drop the gun! Drop the gun!” an officer yelled, just before multiple gunshots rang out.
The suspect, who appeared to be carrying a cell phone in one hand and a firearm in the other, fell to the sidewalk outside the house, the video showed.
Bodycam footage captured Alvarez tossing he weapon to the ground behind him as he fell.
“Why you shooting me?” Alvarez asked them.
“You had a gun!” an officer yelled.
Police later released a photo of the suspect’s 9mm handgun, which was equipped with a laser sight and a 17-round magazine, WLS reported.
An officer immediately rushed to his aid as the suspect repeatedly looked at his cell phone, the video showed.
When a second officer arrived to begin handcuffing Alvarez, the first officer sharply told him not to do so because he was going to “render aid.”
“Stop moving! I’m trying to help you!” the officer told the suspect, who appeared to be bleeding heavily onto the sidewalk.
Police applied a tourniquet to the suspect’s leg and began chest compressions while they waited for emergency medical personnel to arrive, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Alvarez was rushed to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he succumbed to his wounds, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
He had been shot twice – once in his right thigh, and once in the right side of his back with an exit wound to the right side of his upper chest.
Alvarez’s family was shown the bodycam footage ahead of the public release, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“I want more answers,” Alvarez’s mother, Veronica, told KTTV using a translator. “The videos I saw do not explain what I saw in the morgue. I want justice for Anthony. I want to know why they were running after him.”
Lightfoot released a joint statement with attorneys representing the Alvarez family one day later, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Both parties are acutely aware of the range of emotions that will accompany the release of these materials, and we collectively issue this statement and ask that those who wish to express themselves do so peacefully and with respect for our communities and the residents of Chicago,” the statement read.
“COPA’s investigation is ongoing, and both parties expect and have the utmost confidence that officials will determine the complete and unbiased set of facts in this case,” they said. “We ask that all continue to respect the Alvarez family’s right to privacy as they grieve during this incredibly painful time.”
Lightfoot ordered the CPD to come up with a new foot pursuit policy in the wake of the incident, which occurred just two days after another CPD officer fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo as he was running from officers while carrying a gun, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois Executive Director Colleen Connell released a statement demanding the city of Chicago pick up the pace with regard to police reform.
“For the second time in weeks, the people of Chicago are presented with video footage of a young Latino man being shot and killed by police during a foot pursuit,” Connell said. “Again, a family suffers as the Alvarez family experiences the grief and pain of witnessing the last moments of a loved one.”
“The lack of meaningful police reform in Chicago is not only costing the city lives, but also taking a psychological toll on communities of color,” Connell continued. “The city must abandon the current snail’s pace of police reform and become serious about making real changes that serve all neighborhoods.”
In addition to the officer-involved shooting, Officer Solano is also under investigation for pulling a gun during an argument with another driver in Logan Square in late May, WLS reported.
That incident was also captured on video.