Man charged in off-duty cop’s death shot ‘first Hispanic he saw:’ CPD chief

CHICAGO -- Two men have been charged in the shooting death of an off-duty Chicago police officer.

Officer John Rivera, 23, who was off-duty, was shot and killed after leaving a River North bar around 3:30 a.m. Saturday. Police said it appeared to have been a random act of violence.

Menelik Jackson, 24, is charged with one felony count of first degree murder, three felony counts of attempt - first degree murder and resisting police after attempting to flee during arrest. Jovan Battle, 32, is charged with one felony count of first degree murder and three felony counts of attempt - first degree murder.

Both men are expected in court Monday afternoon.

At a press conference, police officials gave details about their findings in the investigation. Police say Jackson and Battle were involved in a fight with a group of Hispanic men who were on a party bus at a nearby McDonald's.

"Offender Menelik Jackson is seen on video immediately running from the scene and returning a short time later, but the party bus and its occupants had left the area," said Chief Melissa Staples.

Police say Jackson and Battle drove around but they could not find the bus.

An hour later, police say the suspects spotted Rivera and three others exiting a restaurant and getting into a car.

"It was at this time, three suspects approached the victim's vehicle. One was armed with a 40-caliber handgun and fires multiple rounds into the victim's vehicle," said Staples.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says this could be treated as a hate crime.

"(Jackson) knew that those other gentlemen were on a party bus," said Johnson. "(Victims) were not in a party bus. They were in a vehicle just coming out from a pizza place. It appears he was just looking for a Hispanic person. He was searching around for the party bus, but the party bus left the area, so I guess he settled on the first Hispanic he saw."

According to the Chicago Tribune, one of the men charged has a history of domestic violence arrests that dates back to at least 2017, the same time period when he was trying to apply to become a Chicago police officer.

"That's probably one of the most disgusting things about this particular incident," said Johnson. "This guy had the nerve to think that he could be a Chicago Police Officer. It's disgusting. The whole situation is tragic but when you pile that on to it, it just makes it tougher for us to deal with."

According to official reports, Rivera was sitting in a vehicle on the 700 block of N. Clark Street when two men approached and one fired shots into the car, striking Rivera in the chest, arm and mouth.

Rivera was rushed to Northwestern Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A 23-year-old man in the vehicle with the officer was also shot and taken to the hospital in critical condition. He is now expected to recover.

Police say they're still looking for another person who was with Jackson and Battle at the scene.

Officer Rivera's funeral will be held Friday morning at the Church Of Annunciata.

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