CHICAGO (CBS) — Following the recommendations of the police review board, interim Chicago Police Supt. Charlie Beck on Wednesday took away police powers from two officers involved in an arrest that led to the shooting of a CTA passenger.
While The Civilian Office of Police Accountability investigation continues, “due to the serious nature of both officers’ actions, I felt it was necessary to recommend the officers involved be relieved of police powers while we continue to investigate this incident,” chief administrator Sydney Roberts said.
Roberts said the investigation remains in the early stages and no conclusions have been reached. COPA said it made this initial recommendation after reviewing video, interviewing witnesses and reviewing police reports.
Beck acted quickly on that recommendation, saying in a statement, “Both of the involved officers have been relieved of their police powers pending the outcome of the external reviews into this matter.”
The move takes away the officers’ service weapons and their authority to make arrests, pending the outcome of an external investigation.
The two officers – Melvina Bogard and Bernard Butler – got into the altercation at the Grand Avenue stop on the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line after the officers tried to stop Ariel Roman from moving between train cars.
The charges of resisting arrest and criminal narcotics against Roman were dropped on Sunday. But the fallout from the widely-shared cellphone recording of his arrest and shooting continued.
Video posted on social media shows two officers attempting to handcuff Roman on the train platform. In the video, an officer is heard yelling for Roman to “stop resisting” – something the officer screamed more than 10 times.
BREAKING: The Civilian Office of Police Accountability recommends that the two officers involved in the shooting at the Grand Red Line station Friday afternoon be “relieved of their police powers, effective immediately” @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/o3N8Ew5YuM
— Megan Hickey (@MeganHickeyTV) March 4, 2020
The officers then both deploy their Tasers. But Roman breaks free, staggers to his feet and appears to wipe his face, apparently from pepper spray.
One of the officers then steps back and pulls her weapon and yells, “Sir, put your hands down!” The second the officers yells, “Shoot him!”
Seconds later, the female officer draws her weapon, and when Roman walks away from the wall while rubbing his face, a first shot rings out.
After that shot was fired, Roman runs up the escalator. Both officers pursue him. After Roman reaches the top of the escalator, another shot is heard off camera. One of Tasers is also seen on the escalator stairs.
Another video on social media shows Roman lying at the top of the escalator unresponsive with two officers standing over him. It is unclear if those are the same officers who pursued him up the steps.
As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported, COPA said a witness’ cellphone video of the incident has been viewed nearly 2 million times since it was shot on Friday afternoon.
But that was not the only reason behind their recommendation to strip the two officers of their police powers. They also reviewed video from Chicago Transit Authority surveillance cameras, spoke with witnesses on the scene, and sifted through the police reports.
COPA came to the conclusion that the officers who shot the unarmed Roman twice should face immediate repercussions.
The next step is for the matter to go before the Police Board. Written charges will have to be filed with the board, and then they will schedule a disciplinary hearing.
There was still no word Thursday afternoon if any criminal charges could be filed against the officers.
At last check, Roman was recovering in the hospital.
On Wednesday evening, a group of protesters were on the Red Line platform, saying the shooting should have never happened.
— LAUREN VICTORY (@LaurenVictory) March 4, 2020