CHICAGO — Lawyers for a 33-year-old man shot and seriously wounded by Chicago police in a downtown subway station filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging officers used excessive force in violation of policies laid out in court-monitored police reforms.
Neither officer seeking to detain Ariel Roman — whose Feb. 28 shooting was captured in bystander video — was properly trained before deployment as part of a city bid to reduce crime on Chicago Transit Authority lines, the suit filed in U.S. District Court said.
The 12-page suit says the city hired the officer who shot Roman as officers struggled to handcuff him knowing that she’d been arrested in 2015 for assaulting a fast-food restaurant worker. It says her partner should have intervened to stop her but instead could be heard telling her, “Shoot him!”
The shooting came the same day Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced in response to a spike in crime on the CTA system that dozens more officers from the 13,000-officer police force would be assigned to trains and platforms, including along the Red Line where Roman was shot.
The filing says that Roman — who minutes earlier was seen walking from one subway car to another, which is illegal — wasn’t armed, had nothing in his hands and wasn’t coming at officers when he was shot once in the stomach and once in the buttocks.
The lawsuit names the city and the two officers, who will be represented by city lawyers. It seeks unspecified damages for Roman’s injuries, and for pain and emotional distress.
A message seeking comment Wednesday from the city’s legal office was not immediately returned.
A federal judge last year approved a far-reaching plan, called a consent decree, for court-supervised reforms of the beleaguered Chicago Police Department two years after a U.S. Justice Department report found a long history of racial bias and excessive use of force.
The widely circulated video of police wrestling with and then shooting Roman shows a male officer lying on top of the suspect at the base of an escalator and trying to keep Roman still.
Roman can be heard saying, “I did nothing to you,” as the officer keeps telling him, “Stop resisting!” As they stand up, the female officer appears to try to pepper spray Roman’s face, before telling him to show his hands.
At that point, the male officer says, “Shoot him!” Seconds later, a shot is heard. Roman begins running up an escalator and moments later, another shot is heard. The lawsuit says the female officer fired both shots.
Two days after the shooting, officials said that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office had dropped resisting arrest and criminal narcotics charges against Roman at the request of interim Police Superintendent Charlie Beck.
Beck last week stripped the two officers of their police powers pending the outcome of the investigation into their roles in the non-fatal shooting.
The Fraternal Order of Police, the officers’ union, reacted angrily to Beck’s decision to strip the two officers of their police powers, saying the investigation should play out first.