A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed against the city, claiming its failure to implement a foot-pursuit policy for the Chicago Police Department was the driving force behind a fatal shooting last year.
Anthony Alvarez was chased through the Portage Park neighborhood before being shot and killed by a CPD officer in the 5200 block of West Eddy Street early on March 31, 2021.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Giselle Higuera, the mother of Alvarez’s child. Higuera’s lawsuit also names as defendants the two officers who chased Alvarez, including Evan Solano, the officer who shot him.
“The City’s failure to implement a foot chase policy and its support of a policing culture of impunity were the driving force behind” Solano firing at Alvarez, the lawsuit said.
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A spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department replied: “The City has not yet been served with a complaint and will have no further comment as the matter is now in litigation.”
The incident started when Alvarez was at a gas station in the 3500 block of North Laramie Avenue and a police vehicle drove in front of him. It remains unclear why the officers initially approached Alvarez, but a foot chase followed, as seen on video from police-worn body cameras.
A fleeing Alvarez collapsed onto the front sidewalk of a home on the 5200 block of West Eddy Street. Footage captured by Solano’s body camera shows a gun in Alvarez’s right hand but never shows Alvarez pointing the gun toward officers.
Solano shouted “Drop the gun! Drop the gun!” seconds before shooting Alvarez in the back and his left leg.
“Prior to the foot chase, the officers did not witness Anthony breaking any law, nor was Anthony wanted for any violent or felony offense,” said Christopher Smith, an attorney representing Higuera. “Startled and scared, Anthony ran. Anthony did not threaten the Defendant Officers or anyone else.”
Smith also noted that Solano “nearly shot another Chicago man” less than two months after killing Alvarez. Solano was caught on camera by Logan Square bystanders who recorded him pulling a gun out during an alleged road rage incident. He would later be stripped of his police powers.
Alvarez was shot two days after 13-year-old Adam Toledo was killed by a police officer during a foot chase in Little Village. Both deaths sparked outrage and calls from Latino leaders for a moratorium on police foot pursuits. It also prompted mass protest as hundreds of people marched in Logan Square.