Two Chicago police officers have been hit with felony charges of aggravated battery and official misconduct in connection with a shooting in Pilsen this summer that injured two people, including a bystander.
Sergeant Christopher Liakopoulos, 43, who has worked at CPD since 2001, and Officer Ruben Reynoso, 42, who has worked at CPD since 2003, were charged, according to officials and court records.
The case stems from a July 22 police shooting that the Chicago Police Department initially suggested involved an exchange of gunfire with a suspect. But prosecutors on Friday said evidence in the case ran counter to that narrative.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced the charges at a Friday morning press conference.
“It is our position based on the facts, the evidence and the law, that the officers involved in this incident did not have provocation or justification to shoot the unarmed victim during this incident,” Foxx said. “The evidence does not support the use of deadly force related to the shooting of the unarmed victim and was not lawful.”
Both the sergeant and the officer were relieved of their police powers and turned themselves in Thursday night, Foxx said. Chicago police had no immediate comment.
Lawyers for the pair were not immediately available.
The shooting took place July 22 just after 6:50 a.m. the 1000 block of West 18th Street, when the two officers, assigned to the major accidents unit, were driving to the police academy for training. Police at the time said the pair saw four people wearing masks loitering in front of a closed business.
After one officer identified himself as a Chicago Police Department officer, one of the people in the group pulled out a handgun, sparking an exchange of gunfire, police said then.
Both officers got out of their vehicle and the shooter, while running away, continued to fire shots at the officers, police said earlier.Two men were shot: a 35-year-old, who suffered a graze wound and who police called an innocent bystander, and a 23-year-old man, who was initially left in serious condition.
At the time, police Superintendent David Brown said it was not immediately clear if it was the officers or the gunman who had shot the two men.
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The 23-year-old man who was shot did not have a weapon or fired any shots at the officers, Foxx said. He has since recovered and is cooperating with authorities during the investigation.
Both officers are charged with having fired shots, Foxx said.
A juvenile is also being investigated in this case, Foxx said.
Authorities reviewed videotape surveillance footage that captured the incident but there was no officer body worn camera footage, Foxx said. The sergeant and the officer who are charged had made representations to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office that were “directly contradicted by the videotape evidence,” Foxx said.
“I want to be clear, we support the hard working men and women of the Chicago Police Department. Like many law enforcement partners across the county face dangers every day to keep us safe, we respect their courage and their commitment. With regard to this particular case, we cannot ignore or stand by acts of unprovoked violence, even at the hands of those who are sworn to serve and protect our communities,” Foxx said.
One of the men who was shot in the incident had a lawsuit against Liakopoulous in United States District Court for excess force, false arrest and battery, according to court records. The man’s attorneys, Gregory E. Kulis and associates, said in a news release that the man was walking with a few people when they were approached by an unmarked police car, and those inside began to talk to them. The man started to walk away when Liakopoulos started firing at him and the others he was with.
The man had no weapon, showed his hands and walked away, the complaint said.