Anthony Alvarez

COPA Recommends Officer Who Fatally Shot Anthony Alvarez Be Relieved of Police Powers Pending Investigation

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Chicago's police oversight agency said Wednesday it had recommended that the officer who fatally shot 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez in the city's Portage Park neighborhood late last month be relieved of his police powers pending the investigation into the shooting.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating the shooting and released videos and other materials related to the incident, like reports and 911 calls, on Wednesday.

COPA said in a statement on the release that officers "attempted to stop and speak with Mr. Anthony Alvarez - an individual familiar to the officers" and that he "fled as officers approached, leading to a foot pursuit by the officers."

"Based upon information obtained in the early stages of the investigation, COPA has recommended the Chicago Police Officer who discharged his weapon, fatally injuring Mr. Alvarez, be relieved of police powers during the pendency of this investigation," COPA said.

The officer was placed on administrative duties for 30 days immediately after the shooting in accordance with Chicago Police Department protocol.

When asked about COPA's recommendation at a news conference following the video release on Wednesday, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said, "I have not heard that from COPA. You have information I don't have."

The tactical response report COPA released along with the video and other materials identified the officer who fired the shots as Evan Solano, a 29-year-old member of the department since June 2015 who is assigned to the 16th District on the Northwest Side.

Per city policy, once COPA concludes its investigation, it will send a final recommendation on any potential discipline for Solano to Brown, who then has 90 days to decide if he agrees or disagrees with the agency's recommendation.

Brown said Wednesday that his decision then goes to the Chicago Police Board for a final determination.

Police fatally shot 22-year-old Alvarez in the early morning hours of March 31. At the time, police said the incident took place at around 12:18 a.m. in the 3500 block of North Laramie Avenue, where officers were "engaged in a foot pursuit."

Police said that during the pursuit, the person - later identified as Alvarez - "produced a handgun which led to a confrontation" in the 5200 block of West Eddy Street and an officer opened fire, striking him.

Alvarez was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead, officials said.

Footage from the body camera worn by Solano, released Wednesday, shows him exiting his vehicle and sprinting past a home and into an alley with another officer for about 21 seconds before the audio picks up.

Solano exits the alley, the video shows, following Alvarez as he turns again onto a residential street. About 2 minutes and 12 seconds into the footage, Solano can be heard yelling, "Hey! Drop the gun, drop the gun" as he draws closer to Alvarez and then immediately fires what sounds like five shots.

Surveillance video from outside the home where Alvarez was shot appeared to show him stumble and fall as he rounded the corner from the alley to the residential street. In the seconds following, the video shows Alvarez appears to have a gun in his right hand just before the officer opened fire. The gun appears to fall out of Alvarez's hand near the steps of a home as he was shot.

Alvarez falls to the ground and seconds later asks Solano, "Why are you shooting me?" to which the officer responded, "You had a gun."

Alvarez begins to try to roll over as the second officer can be seen on the video approaching with his gun drawn as both officers yell, "Get on the ground!"

At about 2 minutes and 31 seconds into the video, the officer radios in "Shots fired by the police" and Solano walks away while saying, "Cuff him, cuff him."

Roughly 17 seconds later, Solano appears to be in the street trying to determine their location and says "roll EMS," then walks back up to Alvarez while saying "cuff him, cuff him" again.

As Solano begins to try and handcuff Alvarez, the other officer tells him to stop so he can render aid. At about 3 minutes and 7 seconds into the footage, the other officer at the scene who did not fire shots says again that he's about to render aid.

He then told Solano, "The gun is right there" while pointing at the ground near Alvarez. That second officer can be heard on the video shouting at Alvarez, "Stop stop stop moving! I'm trying to help you!"

Alvarez's family viewed the video Tuesday at COPA's headquarters. Minutes after seeing the footage, a family member translated his mother Veronica Alvarez's reaction.

"I want more answers. The videos I saw don’t explain what I saw in the morgue," she said. "I want to know why they were running after him. To this day I have no answers."

Todd Pugh, an attorney for the Alvarez family, said the footage they saw Tuesday left them with "more questions than answers."

"As his mother indicated already, it has really left us with more questions than answers, but I know what I saw. I saw Chicago police officers shoot their son as he ran away from them," Pugh said.

The video was released as Chicago is still reeling from the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, which occurred during a foot pursuit in the Little Village neighborhood two days before police killed Alvarez.

COPA released body-camera footage of an officer fatally shooting Adam, as well as other materials related to the investigation, on April 15.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and attorneys for Alvarez's family said in a joint statement Wednesday morning that the release of the videos would begin the family's "long process of healing" and asked that anyone expressing themselves after the release "do so peacefully."

"The Alvarez family, through counsel, Todd Pugh, Tania Dimitrova, and Steven Fine, has advised that they believe that the release of these videos will be the beginning of a long process of healing for the family, and for all those who knew and loved Anthony," the joint statement reads.

"Both parties are acutely aware of the range of emotions that will accompany the release of these materials, and we collectively issue this statement and ask that those who wish to express themselves do so peacefully and with respect for our communities and the residents of Chicago," Lightfoot and the Alvarez family's legal team said.

"COPA's investigation is ongoing, and both parties expect and have the utmost confidence that officials will determine the complete and unbiased set of facts in this case. This tragic event provides further motivation for the expediency for reform to the City’s foot pursuit policies. We ask that all continue to respect the Alvarez family’s right to privacy as they grieve during this incredibly painful time," the statement concludes.

The week after the two fatal police shootings, Lightfoot called for a review of the Chicago Police Department’s foot-chase policy, saying pursuits create "a dangerous environment for all involved.”

A review of the foot pursuit policy is a requirement of the consent decree the city entered under then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2019, an effort overseen by a federal judge to implement reforms.

That consent decree came after a Department of Justice investigation, sparked in 2015 by release of video showing Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times the year before, found in its 2017 report that CPD "engages in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force, in violation" of the U.S. Constitution.

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