Chicago officer shooting subway rider in back

New video released Tuesday shows a subway rider being shot in the back by a Chicago police officer this winter.

The Chicago Transit Authority clip was one of a dozen new videos released by the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which is investigating the response of two Chicago police officers involved in the February 28 confrontation.

The footage shows 33-year-old Ariel Roman near the top of a train station escalator when he is struck in the back and falls forward. Cellphone video of the confrontation circulated previously showed him being shot in the abdomen before bolting up the escalator, where’s he’s shot a second time.

He was also subject to Taser shocks and pepper spray.

Roman survived but has undergone numerous surgeries, his attorney, Andrew M. Stroth, said. The short-order cook is suing the city.

“As the civilian-led administrative investigative agency of police misconduct, immediately following the incident, COPA recommended the two involved Chicago Police Department officers be relieved of police powers due to the serious nature of both officer’s actions and the Department concurred,” the accountability office said in a statement Tuesday.

The officers in Roman’s case have been stripped of their police powers pending the outcome of an investigation. They could face criminal charges if the shooting is deemed unjustified.

Sgt. Rocco Alioto said by email that the police department did “not have a response” to the release of the video.

Stroth said in a statement, “While the COVID-19 pandemic is the city’s top priority, it’s imperative that Mayor Lori Lightfoot takes steps to address another crisis in Chicago and that’s the use of excessive and lethal force by Chicago police officers.”

The Chicago Police Department is in the midst of reform under a federal consent decree sparked after the 2015 incident in which a white police officer fatally shot Laquan McDonald, a black teen.

“This is also a test for new Superintendent David Brown and his stated commitment to police reform as outlined in the Consent Decree, building trust in the community and holding officers accountable for their actions. This video speaks for itself and Ariel Roman’s life is changed forever,” Stroth said.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability also released police documents, emergency radio traffic audio and responding officers’ body camera imagery.

Those released items indicate that the incident started when an officer confronted Roman about moving between cars in motion. Two officers tackled the 33-year-old and struggled in an attempt to get his hands in a position to be cuffed.

Audio from witness cellphone video appears to capture the rider say, “I didn’t do nothin’ to you guys. I didn’t do nothin’ to you guys.”

A male officer appears to say, “Stop resisting.” He also appears to encourage his partner to “shoot ’em” multiple times as they struggle with Roman on the ground.

Officers said in a police report that they also suffered injuries, including lacerations and blunt force trauma.