Chicago, IL – Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown is at odds with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) after he disagreed with the panel’s investigators’ conclusions on two 2018 officer-involved shootings.
Authorities said the first officer-involved shooting under review occurred at about 8 p.m. on July 3, 2018 when Chicago Police Officers David Taylor and Larry Lanier responded to a 911 call about a person with a gun in the 4700-block of West Fulton Street, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Officers Taylor and Lanier confronted 33-year-old Terrell Eason in the backyard and shot him when he refused to drop his gun.
Bodycam video captured by the third officer to arrive on the scene showed that Eason collapsed in the yard after he was shot, but then got back up again with a gun in his right hand before he staggered and fell again, according to the Chicago Tribune.
COPA records showed the Officer Taylor fired eight shots and Officer Lanier fired twice, but neither officer had turned on their bodycam.
The police accountability panel recommended that both officers be fired for shooting Eason and failing to activate their bodycams in a timely manner, the Chicago Tribune reported.
But Superintendent Brown disputed COPA’s assertion that that Officer Taylor and Lanier violated the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) use-of-force policy.
The superintendent agreed with COPA that the officers should have turned on their bodycams according to policy but recommended on a reprimand for that infraction, and didn’t think they deserved to be suspended at all, the Chicago Tribune reported.
But Chicago Police Board member Matthew Crowl disagreed with top cop’s assessment and kicked it back to the entire nine-member board who will hear witness testimony and review the evidence before deciding whether the officers violated policy enough to merit being terminated.
Tim Grace, an attorney for Officer Taylor, told the Chicago Tribune the shooting was justified under the police department’s use-of-force policy.
“We agree with Superintendent Brown’s assessment of the use of force by the officers,” Grace said. “There was no cover. Time and distance were not available to the officers. … [Eason] was given multiple [commands] to drop the weapon… We look forward to adjudicating this case before the Chicago Police Board.”
Superintendent Brown has also defended the actions of Chicago Police Officer Luigi Sarli on Oct. 4, 2018, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Officers responded to a call about a stolen Jeep and located the vehicle near Whipple and Argyle Streets.
Authorities said the driver of the stolen Jeep rammed the squad car, prompting Officer Sarli to open fire on it, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Bodycam video from inside the police vehicle showed Officer Sarli opened the rear passenger door a crack before pointing his gun at the window.
“The back window’s shot, squad. I shot the back window,” Officer Sarli told the dispatcher.
“I shot, I shot. He’s in the car. He hit our door. And he almost hit me and I shot,” Officer Sarli said as he sat down to take off his shoe. “I got glass in my shoe.”
Investigators determined that Officer Sarli fired four shots at the Jeep, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The stolen Jeep was later found abandoned.
COPA recommended that Officer Sarli be fired for breaking department policy when he fired at or into a moving vehicle, the Chicago Tribune reported.
But Superintendent Brown didn’t agree with “certain findings” by COPA.
The police board said that the superintendent felt a 180-day suspension for Officer Sarli would have been appropriate, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The same attorney representing Officer Taylor is also representing Officer Sarli.
Grace said he’s shocked his client is facing termination for protecting himself, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“I am astonished that COPA would move for [firing],” said Grace. “If we are at the point where a police officer is getting his leg nearly [severed] and deadly force is not justified then we have entered a moment in time where police officers will be unable to ever defend themselves.”
But Chicago Police Board member Steve Flores agreed with COPA’s assessment so now Officer Sarli’s case will go before the entire board for review, the Chicago Tribune reported.
If board members Brown and Flores had agreed with Superintendent Brown, two of the three officers wouldn’t have received any discipline while the third would have gotten a six-month suspension.
Brown and Flores were randomly chosen from the nine member board to review the cases and determine whether the police superintendent had met “his burden of overcoming” the COPA chief administrators recommendations, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The police board did not reveal the reasoning behind the superintendent or COPA’s rulings.
Officers Taylor, Lanier, and Sarli have all been relieved of their police powers and assigned to desk duty while their cases are reviewed, the Chicago Tribune reported.