A Chicago police officer is facing dismissal for shooting an unarmed man during a chase on the South Side in 2018, with investigators saying there was little reason to believe the man was reaching for a weapon.
Both the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and Supt. David Brown have recommended that Officer Carlos Barona be fired for the shooting on Feb. 25, 2018.
Barona and other officers were driving north on Ashland Avenue when they smelled marijuana from a passing car near 44th Street, according to COPA. The officers stopped the car and asked the occupants to step outside.
One of them fled and Barona ran after him, yelling for him to stop, COPA said. Another officer stayed behind with the car, where a 1-year-old child was inside.
Barona followed the man to a trucking dock at an industrial facility in the 1500 block of 43rd Street. The man ran under a truck and began reaching for his boot, according to COPA.
Barona told him to stop, later telling investigators he believed the man was reaching for a weapon. Barona fired four times, wounding the man. He was transported to Stroger Hospital and recovered from his injuries.
COPA said Barona did not offer any explanation about why he thought the man was armed and admitted not seeing a firearm or anything shaped like a gun.
He told investigators that when officers pulled over the car, he heard the man say “f***” and push something between his leg and the car door.
When the officer was asked, “Other than him yanking on his boot at that time, was there any other indication that he might have a firearm in that moment?” Barona responded, “At that moment, no. It was just him yanking on his boot,” according to the COPA report.
Searches of the area found no firearms. COPA said it was unable to locate video of the shooting, and none of the civilians involved cooperated with the investigation.
In charges filed with the police board, Supt. Brown determined Barona’s use of force was not necessary to prevent death or bodily harm. He agreed with COPA’s recommendation that Barona be separated from the force.
The case will go to evidentiary hearings next month.