Chicago police officer, sergeant charged with shooting unarmed man in Pilsen in July

CHICAGO (SCS) — A Chicago police officer and sergeant each face felony charges after Cook County prosecutors said they shot and killed an unarmed man in July in Pilsen.

Chicago police previously described the July 22 incident at 18th and Morgan streets as a shooting, but Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said Friday the two charged officers were the first to open fire and had no justification for opening fire on the 23-year-old man who was shot.

This case was turned upside down by CCTV.

Chicago Police Sgt. Christopher Liakopoulos, 43, and Officer Ruben Reynoso, 42, each face charges of aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge with a firearm and official misconduct.

Their bail was set at $25,000 each, meaning they owed $2,500 to be released. Liakopoulos and Reynoso were released from prison on Friday evening.

They were both ordered to hand over their firearms and gun owner identification cards.

Chicago Police Sgt. Chrisopher Liakopoulos (left) and officer Ruben Reynoso (right) are accused of shooting an unarmed man in the Pilsen neighborhood on July 22, 2022.

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Both officers are assigned to the Major Accident Investigation Unit and have been relieved of their police powers. They visited on Thursday evening. Foxx said they face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Police said shortly before 7 a.m. on July 22, two officers from the Major Accident Investigation Unit were on their way to the police academy for training, when they spotted a group of four people wearing masks and strolling past a closed store near 18th and Morgan streets. .

Police said when one of the officers identified themselves as law enforcement, one person in the group pulled out a gun and began firing, prompting the officers to return fire.

“They were masked, obviously armed, and once our officer identified himself as a police officer, they started pulling out a gun and shooting at our officers, trying to kill them,” the superintendent said. from police. David Brown said at the time.

After the initial exchange of gunfire, officers got out of their car and the shooter fled, continuing to fire at officers, police said.

However, Foxx said a review of the evidence in the case contradicted the officers’ claims and showed that Liakopoulos and Reynoso fired first.

“The officers involved in this incident had no provocation or justification to shoot the unarmed victim during this incident. The evidence does not support the use of lethal force related to the shooting of the unarmed victim and no weren’t legal,” Foxx said. “We cannot ignore or support unprovoked acts of violence, even from those who are sworn to serve and protect our communities.”

Kim Foxx announces charges against 2 CPD officers in Pilsen shooting


During the officers’ bail hearing on Friday afternoon, Assistant State’s Attorney Alyssa Janicki said, after Liakopoulos and Reynoso stopped to question a group of men they spotted in front of Closed businesses near 18th and Morgan Asking what they were doing there, a 23-year-old man and a young man began walking towards the passenger side of the officers’ unmarked police cruiser.

While the miner was carrying a satchel over his chest that had a gun on it, the 23-year-old was unarmed; holding a cellphone and a bottle of wine in one hand, the other hand empty, according to Janicki.

After approaching the police car, the minor turned around and fled, while the 23-year-old showed both hands to the officers. Janicki said that’s when Reynoso and Liakopoulos pointed their guns out the passenger side window and started shooting.

The 23-year-old was shot in the back and leg and fell to the ground, according to Janicki. The miner continued to run east on 18th Street, before firing several shots at officers, who fired several more shots.

According to Janicki, a pedestrian walking behind the miner at the time was grazed. Neither the miner nor the officers were injured.

Prosecutors said the 23-year-old man who was shot was unarmed and never fired at police.

“The victim, who was shot and injured in this incident, was not in possession of a weapon, nor did the victim fire a weapon at these two officers,” Foxx said.

This 23-year-old man, Miguel Medina, filed a federal lawsuit against the city and Liakopoulos.

“The officers involved in this incident had no provocation or justification to shoot the unarmed victim of this incident,” Foxx said.

During an interview with detectives on the day of the shooting, officers told detectives that they only opened fire after the minor shot them, according to Janicki. The following day, in an interview with prosecutors and detectives, they said they did not know who fired first, but said the minor had pointed a gun at them before any shots were fired.

Several days later, video evidence obtained during the investigation contradicted officers’ accounts, showing a 23-year-old man standing in the street near the open window on the passenger side of the car, both hands visible, and that the minor was running away. of the vehicle when the officers began shooting.

CPD officer, sergeant charged in July shooting in Pilsen


Defense attorneys disputed prosecutors’ account of the shooting, saying the 23-year-old waved at officers as he and the minor walked towards the car, and saying the video surveillance who had fired first does not clearly indicate.

“We don’t know who fired first… but it doesn’t matter if he was pointing the gun at him,” Reynoso’s defense attorney Brian Sexton said.

Sexton also accused prosecutors of moving too quickly to press charges before the Civilian Police Accountability Office had even completed a review of the case.

“The state has jumped on the shark,” Sexton said.

The officers involved did not have body cameras, according to Foxx. The video evidence in the case came from surveillance cameras located near the scene.

Sexton said he wanted a protective order to stop COPA from releasing this video so that a panel of jurors wouldn’t be tainted.

Foxx said an investigation remains open regarding the minor, who has not been charged.

The Civilian Police Accountability Office is also investigating officers’ use of force, but has yet to announce any findings.

Liakopoulos has been a Chicago police officer for 21 years. During this period, 10 complaints were lodged against him, but none were founded – and he was never sanctioned.

Reynoso has been part of the force for 19 years. He has been the subject of four complaints filed against him and, like his companion, none have been founded.

The video at the heart of this case is expected to be released by COPA early next week.