Chicago police banned from chasing people just because they run away following two fatal shootings

Police officers in Chicago will be banned from chasing anyone suspected of committing minor offenses under a new policy announced on Tuesday.

Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers may pursue a suspect if they believe they are committing or about to commit a felony, a Class A misdemeanour such as domestic assault, or a serious traffic offense that could risk injuring others such as drunk driving or street racing.

The police department had faced pressure to adopt the new policy after foot pursuits two days apart in March 2021 ended in the high-profile fatal shootings of Adam Toledo, 13, and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot demanded that the department create an interim policy after the shootings and the county’s top prosecutor harshly criticised police for their pursuit of Mr Alvarez.

Bodycam footage of the police pursuit of Mr Alvarez was inconclusive about whether he was carrying a weapon, as Chicago police claimed he had been.

In the footage, a police officer says “drop the gun”, before firing five shots less than a second later.

“Why are you shooting me,” Mr Alvarez replies as he lies wounded on the ground. He was pronounced dead soon after.

It appears that the police department took pains to prohibit the kind of foot chase that ended in Mr Alvarez’s death.

Ailani Alvarez, 2, daughter of Anthony Alvarez who was shot by the police, holds a sign reading ‘I miss my daddy’ during a 2021 protest in Chicago

Under the new CPD policy, police officers are banned from chasing suspects if they know where they live.

The police who chased Mr Alvarez knew who he was and where he lived, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said in March.

Second, officers are no longer allowed to chase on foot people who are suspected of the kind of minor traffic offense that led to the chase.

Adam Toledo, 13, holds up his hands a split second before he was shot by police

During the fatal shooting of Adam Toledo two days earlier on 29 March, police said bodycam footage showed that he was holding a gun, but that it vanished as he turned towards the officer and raised his hands. A gun was found a few feet away from where he was killed.

Neither of the deaths resulted in prosecutions, but they did set off a wave of protests in the city and a pledge for policy changes from city officials.

“The safety of our community members and our officers remain at the core of this new foot pursuit policy,” Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown said in a statement announcing the policy

“We collaborated internally with our officers and externally with our residents to develop a policy we all have a stake in.”

Associated Press contributed to this report


Douglas Mateo

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