Chicago Mayor Addresses Shooting Video

Brad Edwards (00:00):

Let’s go to the press conference anticipated after COPA released that video of the Deadly Police shooting of Dexter Reed, 26 years old. Here’s Mayor Brandon Johnson.

Brandon Johnson (00:13):

…footage of a shooting on March 21st in Garfield Park. I know this footage is extremely painful and traumatic for many of our city’s residents. It will be especially difficult for those of us living in communities where the events depicted occur all too often.

As mayor and as a father raising a family, including two black boys on the west side of Chicago, I’m personally devastated to see yet another young black man lose his life during an interaction with the police. My heart breaks for the family of Dexter Reed. They are grieving the loss of a son, a brother, and a nephew. I spoke to Dexter’s family this weekend and offered them my deepest condolences. I know there is also a community of friends, teammates, coaches, and neighbors who are all mourning his loss as well.

I’ve also been praying for the full recovery of the officer who was shot during this interaction and who I visited in the hospital the day of the incident. Thankfully, he’s recovering, but if that bullet had hit him a few inches in a different direction, I would be here today talking about the loss of another black man. It weighs heavily on me that this event took place just blocks away from my own community, and it is not lost on me that both Dexter Reed and this officer could have been my students.

As a city, I want our efforts to be focused on accountability and transparency. And that is why today I’m joined by leadership from the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. All of us up here are making a firm commitment to collaboration, to cooperation, and to provide transparency for the people of Chicago so that we can ensure that accountability is upheld and justice is achieved.

Officers involved in the events on March 21st are on a 30-day administrative leave. And once COPA alerted my administration to the video, it was to us that Dexter Reed’s family see it as soon as possible. And once they had viewed it and that it was promptly released to the public, because the people of Chicago deserve to have awareness and full knowledge of police shootings.

When someone is shot and killed by police in our city, my administration will lead with transparency. Attempts to withhold or delay information are mistakes of the past, and we have already taken concrete steps to start a full investigation into this case. I have directed Garien Gatewood, my Deputy Mayor of Community Safety to work with our Community Safety Coordination Center to provide services to residents of the Garfield Park community. Our teams have coordinated with community-based organizations to provide mental health crisis support and trauma support to community members. We have also been monitoring the physical and mental health of the injured officer and ensuring he has the best care as well.

But there are still much more work to be done in terms of building trust between our communities and police, and my administration is committed to doing just that. It will not be easy, but we will not rest. And the only way we can build trust is through accountability. We will not rest until that accountability has been met. And without true accountability and without constitutional policing, there will never be trust between communities and the police. And without trust we will never be safe. Without trust, our communities will never be safe.

My administration cannot do this alone however. We will need the help of our faith leaders, our elected leaders, our community partners, and everyone of across this great city. Our city needs, all of us and our children need all of us in order to stop the violence and restore trust. In the past, previous administrations have not always moved with expediency, particularly when it comes to informing the public, taking months or even a year to release footage or only doing so when faced with legal action. But this administration, my administration, is committed to transparency, justice and the rule of law. And so today, 19 days later, I’m going to have COPA walk us through the events of March 21st, followed by an update on the process of investigation from our Cook County State’s Attorney, Kim Fox. And at this time, I’d like to turn it over to COPA, the chief administrator, Andrea Kersten.

Andrea Kersten (06:27):

Good morning. I’m Andrea Kersten. I lead the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, COPA, which is the city agency responsible for conducting administrative investigations into allegations of police misconduct and all police shootings. We’re here to discuss a fatal police shooting in which an officer was shot and wounded and a member of the community was killed. These are incredibly painful and complex incidents that often garner considerable public attention, but at their core, they most impact the lives of those directly involved and their loved ones. My hope today is that we can provide facts about the processes that we have in place here in Chicago to both inform the public and investigate these incidents.

And first, I’d like to provide some context for these events. On March 21st 2024 Dexter Reed Jr. was driving westbound near the 3,800 block of West Ferdinand Street when he was stopped by an unmarked Chicago police vehicle carrying five plain clothed officers assigned to a tactical unit in the 11th District. The purported reason for the traffic stop was that Mr. Reed was not wearing a seat belt. Upon stopping Mr. Reed’s vehicle officers surrounded his car and began giving him verbal commands. The situation escalated when Mr. Reed did not comply with those commands, and multiple officers pointed their guns at him while continuing to shout commands. Within less than a minute, an exchange of gunfire occurred, leaving Mr. Reed dead and an officer shot in the forearm.

Preliminary information and available evidence appears to confirm that Mr. Reed fired first, striking one officer. The same information also confirms that four different officers returned fire approximately 96 times at Mr. Reed, including after he exited his vehicle and while he was lying on the ground. Mr. Reed’s firearm was subsequently found on the front passenger seat of his vehicle.

We are here today, 19 days after this fatal shooting, addressing the public because this morning COPA fulfilled its obligation to release a full set of relevant videos, audio recordings, and written reports detailing this shooting in compliance with both the City of Chicago’s video release policy and Paragraph 554 of the Federal Consent Decree. Under current policy, COPA has up to 60 days to release these materials to the public, but as has been COPA’s practice, we have worked diligently to make this information public in as swift of a timeline as possible, in consideration of and communication with Dexter Reed’s family who are in the midst of profound grief.

Full and transparent release of these materials by an independent agency like COPA as opposed to the police department itself or City Hall, are one of the strengths of Chicago’s accountability system. In fact, Chicago leads the nation with respect to transparency surrounding police shootings. Since the city’s video release policy was enacted in 2016, the public has come to expect and trust that a full accounting of relevant materials will be available on COPA’s website in all police shootings, not partial information, not some of the time, and not put forth in a manner that seeks to draw conclusions or form a narrative about the event. Transparency is truly a bedrock of public trust in our institutions, but to be effective, it must be done the same way every time, which is what we seek to do in all of our releases. Conclusions about this incident will come through investigations, but the release of these materials is about making information available to the public.

In addition to our transparency obligations, COPA is also tasked with conducting the administrative investigation of every police shooting that occurs involving a CPD member. This authority is established both in our ordinance and the Federal Consent Decree. An administrative review looks at whether an officer’s actions complied with relevant CPD policies and training, and if not, whether employee discipline or other remedial remedies is warranted. At the conclusion of any one of COPA’s investigations, our recommendations can range from retraining or counseling to suspension, and in the most severe cases, termination from the Chicago Police Department.

In a use of deadly force review like this one, an officer’s decision to use deadly force must be objectively reasonable, necessary, and proportional, based on the totality of circumstances that that officer was confronted with. Under both CPD policy and Illinois State law, the definition of the totality of circumstances allows for the conduct of both the subject and the officers prior to the shooting to be considered. However, it’s important to understand that there are more restrictions and limitations on an officer’s use of deadly force in CPD policy than exist under Illinois state law or the United States Constitution. The affirmative duty a Chicago Police Department officer has to deescalate and prohibitions about firing in certain situations, are examples of those restrictions. CPD policy states its highest priority is the sanctity of life, and it expects officers to act to protect the life and safety of all people.

COPA’s review will also examine the propriety of the traffic stop that initiated these events and any other facts or circumstances that were relevant to this incident. Importantly, the burden of proof in all administrative investigations is that facts must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that the evidence must establish that something is more likely true than not to have occurred. This burden of proof is far lower than that that exists in criminal court. And because COPA is not conducting a criminal investigation, it’s imperative that we communicate with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office and members of the Chicago Police Department’s Incident Response Team to ensure that a thorough criminal review occurs.

And as we do in all police shootings, when someone has been injured or killed, COPA provides critical briefing information to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, the FBI and the Department of Justice and the aftermath of all police shootings, as we did in this instance. And we will continue to provide any further information that is requested as our investigation continues.

While COPA remains an independent voice in our final decisions and recommendations, our independence does not and cannot equal isolation. And we stand here today as part of a broader public safety accountability system, prepared to work collaboratively with our external law enforcement partners, including the Chicago Police Department, but firmly committed to delivering an independent and transparent resolution to our administrative investigation.

And with that, I’d like to thank the public for its patience while COPA’s staff completes this work. And I now turn it over to the Cook County State’s attorney, Kim Foxx.

Kim Foxx (13:35):

Good morning.

Brandon Johnson (13:36):

Good morning.

Kim Foxx (13:37):

Thank you for joining us here today. I stand here with Mayor Johnson and COPA’s Chief Administrator, Andrea Kersten, united in our commitment to transparency and accountability in the investigation of this officer-involved shooting that resulted in the loss of life and the injury to a Chicago police officer. Our collective promise to ensure that our core values guide every step of this process.

First, before I go any further, let me acknowledge that a life has in fact been lost, which is a profound loss for his family and his community, and we offer our sincere condolences during this incredibly difficult time. Additionally, a Chicago police officer was injured while performing in the line of duty, which is a constant reminder of the danger that these men and women face every single day. We understand the great public interest in transparency and accountability, especially when deadly force is used and a life is taken. For the family of Dexter Reed, the wounded officer and the officers involved in this incident we must ensure that the process is transparent, fair, and thorough. We appreciate the pain and the frustration and the concerns that arise when incidents such as this occur. That is why it is imperative that our process is deliberate and transparent.

The State’s Attorney’s office is tasked with reviewing cases for potential prosecution. Let me note that the review of on-duty police shootings is subject to a distinct review that differs from other shooting incidents that we review. Our review of police shootings is guided by the law and statutes related specifically to police use of force. The Supreme Court has established that to maintain order, police officers are allowed to use force, including, but not limited to, verbal commands, restraints, and deadly force with a firearm when necessary, to ensure compliance and maintain public safety. It is in these situations when deadly force is used that the need for accountability becomes even more paramount. It will be our job based on the totality of the evidence to determine whether the use of force in this case was beyond that force, which is allowable under the law.

Our law enforcement and accountability division, also called LEAD, will carefully examine the totality of the circumstances and determine whether the force used here by the officers was warranted or constitute grounds for criminal charges. Our LEAD attorneys and investigators will conduct a thorough review through their standard protocols. This includes coordinating with the investigative agency, communicating with COPA, verifying that all investigative steps have been completed, and reviewing all the evidence to determine whether the use of force was warranted.

If the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the force used was illegal, our office will file criminal charges. If our office determines that the evidence is insufficient to meet our burden of proof, which I want to differentiate from the burden of proof from COPA, which our burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, our office will request an additional review by the Illinois State’s attorney’s appellate prosecutor, who will then make a secondary and independent evaluation of the totality of the evidence, and make a final determination.

I should note we are in the very beginning stages of our review process, examining the evidence compiled by COPA thus far, including body-worn cameras, and other video, medical, and forensic evidence. With their consent, our team will interview the officers involved in this incident and their legal representatives later this week. These interviews, while constitutionally protected to prevent self-incrimination, will be instrumental in filling any gaps and giving a clear picture of this tragic encounter. As evidence becomes available, including witness statements, camera footage, and forensic analysis, which includes ballistics and DNA testing, our ongoing review and collaboration will continue until a determination of whether the use of force was or was not justified in this case.

We are aware of the community’s need for answers and the desire for swiftness. Let me assure you that our pursuit of justice will be relentless, guided by the facts ,grounded in evidence and the law. However, and I must stress, it is equally important that we allow the investigative process the time it needs to ensure that its findings are beyond approach. I say once again, it is imperative that we let the investigation take its course. Be assured, our commitment to finding justice for everyone involved, is unwavering. We ask for the family and community’s patience and trust, as well as those of our law enforcement partners. We ask for your patience and trust as we undertake this solemn duty. Thank you.

Brandon Johnson (19:24):

Thank you, Ms. Kersten, and Ms. Foxx. I also would like to acknowledge two of our alders that are with us this morning, whose communities have been impacted, the Alder of the 37th Ward, Alderwoman, Emma Mitts, and to our vice Mayor Alderman Walter Burnett, thank you both for being here.

Again, thank you to our State’s Attorney and to our director. Kirsten. I want to be absolutely clear. Shooting a police officer can never be condoned, never condoned, never excused. I will never stand for that and neither will the city of Chicago. And we also have to be very clear that we hold our police to the highest of standards. As agents of the law they have the highest responsibility to the communities in which they serve. As a government, as representatives of the people, we have an obligation to abide by the rule of law and to follow procedures, and that is what we are ultimately doing here.

As this city remembers the life of Dexter Reed, I urge everyone to remain peaceful and not lead our city down a path of division, but instead towards healing and transformation that ultimately builds a better, stronger, and a much safer Chicago. We all grieve the loss of life and the trauma that follows pervasive violence. We cannot ever accept violence as a way of life in Chicago. So this is a call for true dialogue and advocacy and ultimately constructive action to prevent tragic events like this from ever happening again. And this administration, my administration, is deeply committed to accountability and transparency, so that true justice and true safety can be realized. God bless you, and God bless the greatest city in the world, the city of Chicago.

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