WARNING: This “Chicago Tonight” report from Amanda Vinicky includes graphic video. Read our policy on the use of graphic video.
Police body camera footage released Wednesday shows that 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez was fleeing from police and did not appear to point a firearm toward anyone before he was shot and killed by an officer during a foot pursuit on the Northwest Side last month.
The video release from the Civilian Office of Police Accountability marks the second time in two weeks the agency has published footage showing a fatal police shooting involving a foot pursuit and comes amid calls for reform after 13-year-old Adam Toledo was killed by an officer in a separate incident last month.
The video released Wednesday shows an officer shooting at Alvarez multiple times on the front yard of a home in the 5200 block of West Eddy Street in Portage Park. After he falls to the ground, Alvarez cries out, “Why are you shooting me?”
The officer replies: “You had a gun.”
GRAPHIC VIDEO: Body camera footage released Wednesday shows the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez by a Chicago police officer on March 31, 2021.
Police said the incident began around 12:18 a.m. on March 31. Body camera video shows Alvarez walking through the parking lot of a Laramie Avenue gas station before a Chicago Police Department squad vehicle with its lights activated begins pursuing him.
Alvarez runs from police, first through an alley and then on to Eddy Street, as two officers get out and begin chasing him on foot. A second video recorded by a residential security camera shows Alvarez — who appears to have a gun in his right hand and his phone in his left — stumbling on a lawn and attempting to get around a staircase that leads up to a home.
That’s where one of the officers catches up to him and shouts at Alvarez to “Drop the gun!” twice before firing five shots, striking Alvarez multiple times.
Alvarez did not fire his weapon at police and was not directly facing the officer when he was shot.
As Alvarez lay bleeding on the ground, the shooting officer repeatedly tells his partner to “Cuff him! Cuff him!” but the other officer refuses and instead shouts back, “Let me render aid!”
That second officer attempts to apply a tourniquet to Alvarez’s leg and repeatedly tells Alvarez to “stay with me” before beginning chest compressions as other officers arrive on the scene.
Alvarez was eventually taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. The CPD said officers did recover a firearm at the scene.
The officer who fired the shots has been placed on routine administrative leave. He was identified in a document published by COPA as 29-year-old Evan Solano, who has been with the police department since June 2015.
COPA has recommended Solano be relieved of his police powers throughout the duration of its investigation. A police spokesperson said Wednesday afternoon that CPD Superintendent David Brown has received that recommendation and is “currently taking it under advisement.”
Attorneys for the Alvarez family issued a joint statement with Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday, saying they believe the footage release “will be the beginning of a long process of healing for the family, and for all those who knew and loved Anthony.”
“Both parties are acutely aware of the range of emotions that will accompany the release of these materials,” they said, “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.”
COPA allowed members of Alvarez’s family to review the video Tuesday evening before it was released publicly. After seeing the video, Todd Pugh, one of the attorneys representing the family, reportedly said, “I know what I saw. I saw a Chicago police officer shoot their son as he ran away from them.”
In a statement, Alvarez’s family said they are “overcome with grief by the loss of their beloved son, brother, cousin, and friend and they are still seeking an answer to Anthony’s dying question.”
“I can’t believe he is gone,” Alvarez’s father Oscar Martinez said in a statement. “I really miss my son. I just want some answers; why did they do this to Anthony?”
Following the video release, the Chicago Police Department published its own compilation video which includes both the body camera footage and security footage which has been slowed down at the point of the shooting.
WARNING: Graphic video.
The department’s preliminary statement on the shooting also did not state what sparked the foot pursuit. But Lightfoot on Wednesday morning implied that it involved a “minor traffic offense,” saying it’s “unacceptable” that something so small would result “in someone being shot and killed.”
“That’s not acceptable to me and it shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone,” she said during an unrelated press conference Wednesday.
In a statement, COPA said tactical officers had attempted to stop and speak with Alvarez, who the agency described as “an individual familiar to the officers.”
Superintendent David Brown on Wednesday said he has seen the body camera video several times over the past few weeks, but he refused to offer any thoughts on the shooting until COPA concludes its investigation.
“I have to stay non-opinionated on the facts until I get that complete investigation,” he said during a brief conference with reporters. “It’s really important for the independence (of that investigation).”
Alvarez was killed just two days after another CPD officer shot and killed Adam Toledo, whose death has sparked widespread calls for police reform, specifically regarding its foot pursuit policy.
Brown told reporters last week they are working “as quickly as practical” to get a final draft of that policy ready. On Wednesday, he said that draft is being circulated through internal focus groups to get feedback from officers.
In a statement, the ACLU of Illinois said the video “shows that the lack of meaningful police reform in Chicago is not only costing the City lives, it is taking a psychological toll on communities of color. The City must abandon the current snail’s pace of reform.”
In their joint statement, Lightfoot and the Alvarez family said 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,” they said, “as they grieve during this incredibly painful time.”