Chicago leaders react to footage of shooting in which officers fired nearly 100 times

CHICAGO (WGN) — Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson says he is focused on both accountability and transparency following the release of body-cam video that captured a fatal gunfire exchange in March between Chicago police officers and a 26-year-old man.

The difficult-to-watch police shooting video, in which nearly 100 shots were fired by officers after the Civilian Office of Police Accountability says Dexter Reed fired first, has elicited emotional reactions from city leaders. Not long after the police shooting video was released, Johnson called the footage “deeply disturbing.”

"I know this footage is extremely painful and traumatic for many of our city’s residents," Johnson said. "It will be especially difficult for those of us living in communities where the events depicted occur all too often."

Dexter Reed shooting: Policy versus public perception

Mayor Johnson, a West Side resident raising two Black boys, spoke in personal terms.

"I am personally devastated to see yet another young Black man lose his life during an interaction with the police," he said. "My heart breaks for the family of Dexter Reed."

The mayor says he spoke to Reed’s family and visited the officer who was shot during the incident.

"Thankfully, he is recovering," Johnson said. "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."

As COPA investigates, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is conducting a review, though she is not hinting whether or not she’ll bring criminal charges against the officers who fired 96 shots at Reed.

"It is imperative that our process is deliberate and transparent," Foxx said. "Our ongoing review and collaboration will continue until the determination of whether the use of force was or was not justified in this case."

COPA said the officers, who were in plainclothes and riding in unmarked cars, initiated the traffic stop because Reed wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Court records show Reed was out on bond for unlawful use of a weapon when he was stopped.

On Tuesday, members of the City Council reacted to the video. Alderman Carlos Ramirez Rosa suggested that the Reed stop may not have been constitutional.

In a statement, he said, “Pretextual traffic stops where no immediate danger is witnessed on the road do not justify deadly force.”

Alderman Brian Hopkins, who was briefed about the shooting before the video came out, has a different take.

"The one fact that remains beyond dispute is that Dexter Reed initiated the gun battle," Hopkins said. "Period."

COPA: Officers fired 96 times after being fired upon in fatal Humboldt Park shooting last month

Transparency by COPA is also being criticized. The head of the rank-and-file police union, John Catanzara, went after the head of COPA for making the police body-camera footage public.

"There’s no reason this video — these videos — needed to be released within 19 days," Catanzara said.

The lingering message from those involved in the investigation is patience, adding that no one should rush to judgment.

Along with the firearms charge, police records show Reed was also charged with retail theft last year. He was out on a $5,000 bond. Both those incidents happened before the new pre-trial detention rules went into effect under the SAFE-T Act.

Faith community: 'We demand to know how a simple traffic stop results in civilian death'

Faith leaders on the West Side, meanwhile, raised questions after the release of the body-cam footage.

"We believe in law and order, community policing, and police accountability. In the case of Mr. Reed, we demand to know how a simple traffic stop results in civilian death," said David Cherry, president of the Leadership Network.

"Mr. Reed was beloved by his family. (He was) a standout athlete and formerly worked as a certified security officer at the University of Illinois' Credit Union Arena. His family deserves the unadulterated truth."

Members of the Leadership Network have since called for an independent investigation into the fatal shooting, wanting a better understanding of the incident itself and what led up to it.

Rev. Dr. Janette Wilson with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition further questioned the police.

"How many shots did they fire?" she asked. "There’s so much we need to know, and we need to know the background of the police officers. Have they had other instances? What made them go to that scene, at that time, and stop that car."

Some faith leaders believe how the case is handled will either enhance or hinder community policing as the City of Chicago heads into the summer months.

"I think all of us are concerned going into this summer about police-community relations and about what is happening on our streets," said Rev. Dr. Marshall Hatch Sr. with New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church. "We can go a long way to helping all of us have some confidence as we go into the summer that the city will not tolerate anything less than constitutional policing."

A press conference outside the 11th District on Tuesday evening started off peaceful but turned ugly as protesters blocked the intersection, some women got into an altercation.

Community activists chased down a man in a green sweatshirt who had earlier interrupted the press conference. Police had to barricade him against a fence and then escort him out.

During the event, many called for an end to the police tactical teams and questioned why the plainclothes officers pulled Reed over for an alleged seatbelt violation.

"That makes no sense," Aislinn Pulley with the Chicago Justice Torture Center said. "Dexter’s vehicle had tinted windows, so the argument they were looking for a seatbelt issue doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t hold up."

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