CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago Police officer has been charged with two felonies, for shooting an unarmed man during a confrontation at a CTA Red Line subway station last year.
Officer Melvina Bogard, 32, is charged with one count each of aggravated battery and official misconduct in the shooting of Ariel Roman on Feb. 28, 2020 at the Grand stop on the Red Line, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.READ MORE: Civilian Office Of Police Accountability Wraps Up Investigation Of CPD Shooting Of Ariel Roman At Red Line Station
Prosecutors said Bogard turned herself in Thursday morning.
Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz ordered Bogard released on her own recognizance, and ordered her to surrender her Firearm Owner’s Identification card, as well as any concealed carry license she might have.
Defense attorney Tim Grace said Bogard already surrendered her only firearm to CPD Internal Affairs as part of the investigation of the shooting.
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown in April moved to fire Bogard and her partner, Officer Bernard Butler, for violating multiple department policies, calling the shooting of Roman unnecessary.
However, Bogard’s attorney said the officer was acting in self-defense after Roman had struggled with officers for more than eight minutes after they confronted him for illegally moving between cars of a Red Line train on Feb. 28, 2020.
“It’s a brawl,” Grace said.
Grace said Roman ignored more than 25 commands from Bogard and Butler to stop resisting, and even bent a pair of steel handcuffs as the officers were trying to subdue him.
Prosecutors and Grace both said Bogard tried to use pepper spray to subdue Roman during the struggle, but it was ineffective, as was both officers’ use of their Tasers.
Meantime, some of the pepper spray got onto Butler, which Grace said left him unable to help Bogard in the attempt to arrest Roman.
“Her partner is completely out of this fight,” he said.
Grace said Bogard is only 5 feet tall and 120 pounds, while Roman is 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, and was advancing toward her when she shot him, after exhausting other less lethal options.
“She did exactly what she was trained to do at the Chicago Police Academy. This is self-defense,” Grace said.READ MORE: Police Watchdog Agency Releases New Videos Of Officer Shooting Ariel Roman At Red Line Station
However, Supt. Brown has argued the shooting was unnecessary, because Roman posed no deadly threat to Bogard or anybody else. The superintendent also said Bogard and Butler failed to use approved de-escalation techniques to arrest Roman before using deadly force.
Videos from several surveillance cameras on the train show Bogard and Butler talking to Roman on the train, before he walks away from them. Moments later, Bogard follows him and motions to him to get off the train. The surveillance videos do not have sound, so it’s not clear exactly what they said to each other.
Another surveillance video from outside the train shows both officers talking to Roman before he tries to walk away, and one of the officers grabs his arm. A struggle ensues, and the officers tackle Roman to the ground, mostly out of sight of that camera.
A passenger’s cell phone video of the struggle shows the officers struggling to hold down Roman and trying to handcuff him.
****WARNING: Video contains graphic content and explicit language****
In the video, an officer is heard yelling for Roman to “stop resisting” – something the officer screamed more than 10 times. 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. Bogard then steps back and pulls her weapon and yells, “Sir, put your f***ing hands down!” as Butler yells, “Shoot him!”
Seconds later, Bogard draws her weapon and shoots Roman. After that first shot, Roman runs up the escalator, the officers give chase, and a second shot rings out off camera. Various surveillance cameras from the busy Grand station in River North show passengers fleeing after the shots ring out, and other police officers arriving on scene.
In April, Brown moved to fire Bogard and Butler, arguing Bogard violated department rules for deploying her Taser weapon and then shooting Roman, which Brown said was unnecessary because Roman posed no deadly threat to her or anybody else. Brown also accused Butler of violating department rules in the use of his Taser weapon and by failing to use approved de-escalation techniques to arrest Roman, Brown said. Butler was also cited for placing Roman in danger for grabbing him on the edge of the subway platform.
Brown concluded that both officers should be fired. That final decision is up to the Police Board, which will hold hearings on the case.
Roman was charged with resisting arrest after the incident, but the charges later were dropped.
Roman was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital after the shooting, and underwent at least two surgeries. Rodriguez said the gunshot wound to his stomach destroyed the tissue connecting his bladder to his small intestine, and the bullet that hit him in the buttocks is still lodged in his back, and can’t be removed, because it’s too close to his sciatic nerve.
Roman has sued the city and the officers for excessive force. The lawsuit seeks unspecified financial damages. Roman’s attorneys said the city also needs to make sure all officers are properly trained, noting Bogard opened fire in a busy mass transit station, where an innocent bystander could have been shot over an incident that didn’t require deadly force to begin with.
Attorney Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez has said Roman has been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, and began suffering a panic attack while riding a Red Line train that day.
Roman’s attorneys said, while he has acknowledged moving between the cars of a CTA train — which is a violation of city ordinance — he did not commit any crime that would have warranted him being arrested, and was not armed or otherwise a threat to police or anyone else.
“The officers – who are trained – should have relaxed, and chilled, and taken time, called backup. The notion that an officer would shoot her service revolver twice is astonishing,” Roman’s attorney, Andrew Stroth, said last year.
Use of force experts who reviewed the video with CBS have said the footage is problematic, particularly given that Roman was walking away when he was shot.MORE NEWS: Use-Of-Force Experts Raise Alarm About Police Shooting Man At Grand Avenue Red Line Stop
“The law simply doesn’t allow what I saw in the video,” University of Pittsburgh law professor David A. Harris said last year.