Chicago, IL – A Chicago police officer who fatally shot an armed suspect during a foot pursuit in 2021 will not face criminal charges, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced on Tuesday.
Foxx said an outside agency investigated the incident and that she subsequently determined there was insufficient evidence to charge Chicago Police Officer Evan Solano in connection with the March 31, 2021 shooting death of 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez, FOX News reported.
“This is a somber announcement,” Foxx said of her decision. “There are no winners in this situation.”
The prosecutor then blamed Officer Solano and his fellow officers for allegedly creating the situation in which “the use of deadly force became necessary,” and alleged Officer Solano “may have committed several foot pursuit policy violations,” according to FOX News.
But she concluded she would not be able to prove that Officer Solano wasn’t in fear that he or his partner were in danger of imminent death or great bodily harm at the time of the shooting.
The incident occurred one day after police attempted to arrest Alvarez during a traffic stop, Foxx said.
Police later spotted Alvarez walking across the parking lot of a gas station in the Portage Park neighborhood in the early morning hours of March 31, 2021, 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.
“First, it was unnecessary for the officers to stop and engage with Mr. Alvarez, who was walking through a gas station parking lot, holding food and drink,” Foxx declared on Tuesday. “He was not committing any crimes that were readily apparent to the officers at the time.”
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.
Foxx said her office considered filing first- or second-degree murder charges against Officer Solano, but that the evidence was insufficient to support criminal charges, WFLD reported.
“In this instance, we would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Solano’s belief that either he or his partner were in danger of imminent death or great bodily harm was unreasonable at the time of the shooting,” she said, according to FOX News.
The Illinois State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor’s Office concurred that the incident did not warrant any criminal charges, CNN reported.
Tania Dimitrova, the attorney representing Alvarez’s family, said they are “saddened and disappointed” that Foxx opted not to charge Officer Solano, according to WFLD.
“Family members are committed in their efforts to bring justice for Anthony, which includes holding the Chicago Police officers involved in the shooting accountable for their actions,” Dimitrova said in a statement. “We hope that Kim Foxx and her office continues their investigation into the reckless and inexcusable conduct of Officer Evan Solano.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot released a joint statement with attorneys representing the Alvarez family shortly after the fatal officer-involved shooting, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Lightfoot said during a press conference after the incident that 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, 2021. “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.
Lightfoot also ordered the Chicago Police Department (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.
Foxx also declined to file criminal charges against the officer who shot Toledo.
The mayor urged the community to support Alvarez’s family in the wake of Tuesday’s announcement, according to CNN.
Lightfoot said trust between law enforcement officers and residents is a two-way street.
“Following today’s announcement…that work to build that trust continues, in partnership with the Chicago Office for Police Accountability and our Chicago Police Department,” she said.
Foxx said she is also concerned about the CPD’s foot pursuit policy and blamed police for the fallout created by fleeing suspects, CBS News reported.
“We have to ask ourselves, was this worth the effort?” she said. “I think the deaths that we have seen, and the risks to our officers absolutely necessitates that we have a foot pursuit policy that keeps everyone safe.”
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) completed its investigation into the incident in January and forwarded its findings to CPD Superintendent David Brown, CBS News reported.
Superintendent Brown will determine whether or not Officer Solano will face disciplinary action.