4 Chicago Police Officers Fired at Dexter Reed 96 Times in 41 Seconds After He Shot Officer in Arm: COPA

COPA calls for officers to be relieved of police powers during investigation

Video: COPA released video footage from multiple officers’ body-worn cameras. WARNING: Graphic content.

Chicago police officers fired nearly 100 shots in less than one minute after Dexter Reed appeared to have shot first during a fatal traffic stop in Humboldt Park last month, according to police oversight officials.

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The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, on Tuesday released body camera footage showing the fatal shooting of Reed by Chicago police officers during a March 21 traffic stop in the 3800 block of West Ferdinand Street. Reed had been pulled over for purportedly not wearing a seatbelt.

COPA in a statement said preliminary evidence “appears to confirm” that Reed fired first before officers responded by firing 96 shots in a matter 41 seconds. The agency has recommended to CPD Superintendent Larry Snelling that four of the officers involved be relieved of their police powers during the investigation.

“Each use of deadly force must be evaluated by examining the totality of circumstances, including the officer’s actions prior to their use of force,” COPA’s First Deputy Chief Administrator Ephraim Eaddy said in a statement.

The CPD in a statement Tuesday said it is cooperating fully with COPA’s ongoing investigation.

“We cannot make a determination on this shooting until all the facts are known and this investigation has concluded,” the statement reads.

Mayor Brandon Johnson called the footage of Reed’s death “deeply disturbing” in a hastily scheduled appearance at City Hall, where he was flanked by Andrea Kersten, the head of COPA, and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

“I’m personally devastated to see yet another young Black man lose his life during an interaction with the police,” Johnson said, adding that shooting a police officer could never be condoned or excused.

Johnson said he spoke with members of Reed’s family in the days before the video was released and visited the wounded officer.

“Both Dexter Reed and this officer could have been my students,” said Johnson, who taught civics at Westinghouse College Prep, where Reed went to high school and was a basketball standout.

Johnson said the officer who was shot came close to dying.

“If that bullet had hit him a few inches in a different direction, I would be here today talking about the loss of another Black man,” Johnson said.

Vowing to hold Chicago officers to the highest standards, Johnson asked for peace as the investigation continues.

Johnson took no questions from reporters, and Snelling was not present for his remarks.

Foxx said her office was in the early stages of investigating the shooting, and pleaded for enough time to complete a thorough investigation.

“We ask for your patience and trust,” Foxx said. 

Find COPA’s full case log with video and reports here.

Video: WTTW News reporter Heather Cherone reports from the 11th District headquarters ahead of a Tuesday evening rally. (Produced by Heather Cherone and Crystin Immel)

According to COPA’s initial statement on the shooting last month, five CPD officers assigned to an 11th District tactical unit pulled over a vehicle for a traffic stop near the border of Humboldt Park and Garfield Park at 6 p.m. March 21.

In one video published Tuesday, a female officer approaching Reed’s white SUV can be heard repeatedly telling him to “roll the windows down” and asked “What are you doing?” before Reed began rolling the window back up.

The officer then tried to open the driver’s side door and unholstered her weapon while demanding that Reed unlock the vehicle.

“Open the door now, open the door now,” the officer yelled before backing away from the vehicle and pointing her firearm toward the driver’s side door.

Gunfire then breaks out and officers run from the vehicle. The female officer took cover behind a nearby tree and radioed in that shots had been fired, according to the video.

Dozens of shots can be heard on video and the female officer called for an ambulance, stating that an officer had been hit. Reed at this point could be seen lying face down and unresponsive on the pavement outside the vehicle.

The female officer repeatedly told Reed to “not f--king move” as officers pulled his arms behind his back and placed him into handcuffs. It is unclear how many times Reed was shot.

In a separate video, a male officer standing in the street can be seen firing numerous shots into the driver’s side of the vehicle. The SUV then lurched forward slightly before Reed got out and was shot before collapsing to the ground.

That officer fired multiple more times after Reed had already fallen to the ground, the video showed.

Andrew M. Stroth, who represents Reed’s family, described those final shots as a “military-style execut(ion).” He claimed the plainclothes officers never announced they were police and that they initiated an unconstitutional traffic stop before the shooting.

“How many more Black and Brown young men have to die before this city will change?” he said during a news conference Tuesday.

Sheila Bedi, a Northwestern School of Law professor, said officers escalated the situation by exiting their vehicle with their guns drawn and shouting commands at Reed, and said they never rendered any aid to him as required.

Stroth said Reed’s family is demanding action following the shooting, calling for the CPD to disband tactical teams like the one that conducted the traffic stop and for criminal charges to be filed against some of the officers involved.

“We just want answers,” Reed’s sister, Porscha Banks, said. “He was scared and after he was already on the ground, dead, they still put him in (handcuffs) instead of checking to see if he’s breathing.”

Tactical response reports published by COPA show each of the four officers fired at least a dozen shots during the encounter. One officer fired 34 shots, the reports show.

“I just miss my son,” Reed’s mother, Nicole Banks, said. “I’m hurt, I’m sick, I feel like I’ve been shot. My insides are burning up.”

Reed was struck multiple times, according to COPA, and was later pronounced dead. One officer was struck in the wrist and hospitalized in good condition, and four other officers were transported to nearby hospitals for observation.

John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 7, said in a video posted to the union’s social media pages that there was “nothing absolutely legally wrong with the shooting.” 

Speaking in front of the union’s memorial to officers slain in the line of duty, Catanzara said he was grateful that another name would not need to be added to the granite wall. 

Catanzara said the video of the shooting should not have been released 19 days after the incident, and called Kersten “corrupt” without offering evidence. 

“The sad reality is that this is another attempt by COPA and Chief Administrator Andrea Kersten to divide the community against the police,” said Catanzara, who has repeatedly criticized COPA since its formation in 2017. 

However, during his remarks, Johnson said he was proud to have released the video so quickly, which is in stark contrast of the way former Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Lori Lightfoot handled high-profile police shootings. 

“Previous administrations have not always moved with expediency,” Johnson said. “But this administration, my administration, is committed to transparency, justice and the rule of law.”

Video: The WTTW News Spotlight Politics team discusses the political fallout and ramifications of the deadly shooting for Mayor Brandon Johnson, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, the Chicago Police Department and others. (Produced by Sean Keenehan)

The Rev. Marshall Hatch and other faith leaders on Tuesday called for an “independent and thorough investigation” into the fatal shooting.

“We want the full story,” Hatch said. “It’s time for no more games. We want to know if we can expect anything to be done differently in this season that we’re in now, and Dexter Reed’s shooting is gonna tell us whether or not anything has changed.”

In a letter to Snelling, the lawyer for Reed’s family said the shooting was “unjustified.”

Reed, a Black man, was stopped in the city’s Harrison (11th) Police District, where more than 10% of all traffic stops in Chicago took place in 2023. The vast majority of residents who live in that police district are Black. 

More than 51% of all drivers stopped by police officers in 2023 were Black, and nearly 31% of drivers pulled over by Chicago police officers were Latino. By comparison, just 13.6% of drivers stopped by Chicago police were White, according to a report released Thursday from Impact for Equity, a nonprofit advocacy and research organization that has helped lead the push to reform the Chicago Police Department. 

Approximately 73% of the traffic stops made by Chicago police officers in 2023 were prompted by improper registration or an equipment violation, according to the report. 

A separate report from Chicago’s inspector general released in March 2022 found that when a police stop results in an officer using force against a Chicagoan, 83.4% of those incidents involve a Black person.

Impact for Equity has called for Chicago officers to be banned from pulling over drivers because of improper registration issues or broken equipment, like the one that appears to have led to Reed’s death.

Reed, known as Dex, helped lead Westinghouse College Prep High School to a regional championship in 2016, and attended Morton Junior College, Stroth said.

“While Dexter enjoyed basketball, he aspired to one day become a sports broadcaster,” according to the attorney’s letter. “Dexter’s favorite artist was Jay-Z. Dexter also liked to eat vegetables and cooking bake beans.”

Activists and relatives of other Chicagoans killed by police officers gathered outside the 11th District headquarters Tuesday evening to demand both an end to the violence and true accountabliity for officers.

Banks, Reed’s sister, said her brother should still be alive, remembering him as a sweet person who loved his family and basketball.

After nearly an hour of speeches, the crowd of less than 100 people entered the intersection of Harrison Street and Kedzie Avenue to protest, blocking traffic along the Eisenhower Expressway.

The protest, which had been peaceful, teetered on the brink of violence as several dozen people chased a man who had been heckling speakers and chanting that Reed shot a Chicago police officer. Dozens of officers rushed in to break up the fracas, eventually leading the man away and racheting down tensions.

Soon, the officers formed two lines along Harrison Street, preventing the crowd from moving west or east, but did not order the protestors out of the street. That apparently incensed Banks, who confronted each officer in turn with profane accusations that they murdered her brother. None of the officers engaged with her, heeding calls from supervising officers not to react.

Nearly an hour later, the protest dispersed, with people in attendance vowing to reconvene at the April 17 Chicago City Council meeting.

Porscha Banks, center, confronts Chicago police officers at a protest outside the 11th Police District headquarters on April 9, 2024, hours after video of the fatal police shooting of her brother, Dexter Reed, was released. (Heather Cherone / WTTW News)Porscha Banks, center, confronts Chicago police officers at a protest outside the 11th Police District headquarters on April 9, 2024, hours after video of the fatal police shooting of her brother, Dexter Reed, was released. (Heather Cherone / WTTW News)

A Safer City is supported, in part, by the Sue Ling Gin Foundation Initiative for Reducing Violence in Chicago.

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