CHICAGO – An off-duty Chicago police officer was charged with murder Wednesday in the fatal shooting of his neighbor.
Lowell Houser, 57, was arrested and charged for the murder of 38-year-old Jose Nieves.
Nieves was shot and killed in the Hermosa neighborhood on the city’s Northwest Side earlier this month.
According to an account from Chicago police, the shooting happened after a verbal argument on the morning of Monday, Jan. 2 in front of Nieves’s home. Nieves was moving furniture into his apartment when his sister says the officer, who is his neighbor, started harassing his girlfriend.
Nieves had words with him, his girlfriend says, and Houser, an off-duty transit officer, shot Nieves three times, in the leg, the stomach and the back.
Police and the family say there had been another disagreement a few days earlier.
Police say Nieves was unarmed.
According to court papers, Houser has reportedly been the subject of at least 20 disciplinary investigations since the early 1990s. Houser was stripped of his powers pending the outcome of the investigation.
Nieves’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Chicago police department. They believe the Houser had a vendetta the family calls this killing unjustified. An attorney for the family released a statement:
"The Nieve's family is devastated by the loss of Jose. The State's Attorney's action today will not bring back Jose but is an important and swift step in the criminal justice process."