Chicago’s civilian investigative police watchdog on Monday released video of a shooting last month by a Chicago police officer that killed a 26-year-old man in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood.
Miguel Vega was shot by police on August 31 in the 1300 block of West 19th Street. Chicago police have said Vega was shot after officers were fired upon as they got out of their unmarked car about 10:45 p.m. that day. Officers had been responding to a call of a suspicious person when they noticed a group of five people standing on the sidewalk, the department has said.
Vega’s mother, Maria Vega, previously called for the release of any video of the incident, saying she did not believe the police version of events and that officials refused to answer questions.
“I want to see those videos of the officers' body cameras,” Maria Vega demanded hours after her son died. “I want answers from the police and justice for my son. If my son was at fault, I’ll accept it, but it doesn’t make sense right now.”
Vega’s brother, meanwhile, has said Vega was unarmed when he was shot by police.
In the body-cam video released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability on Monday, officers can be seen hurriedly exiting their squad car, one of them firing a pistol over the open door of the vehicle up the sidewalk. Audio of the shooting officer’s camera does not cut on until he has moved up the block to arrest a man he finds near a curb. Another man, apparently Vega, can be seen lying on the sidewalk after being struck by a bullet.
The officer can be heard directing others to look for a weapon that might have been discarded as police approached the area. Officers eventually can be heard to say they located a gun, a few parked cars from where Vega could be seen lying in the sidewalk.
The shooting remains under investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability but the city’s video release policy allows COPA to release video, recordings of 911 calls and police reports within 60 days of such an incident. On Monday, COPA released this evidence 21 days after the shooting, one of the shortest time frames the agency has even taken to release such material to the public.
In a Tribune story earlier this month, police accountability experts called into question whether the 60-day policy allowed COPA too much time to withhold video of police shootings from the public. A Tribune review of two years of cases posted on the COPA website showed that most were posted on or just prior to the 60-day deadline.
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