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Bodycam video released of shootout that killed Dexter Reed and wounded Chicago police officer

Questions remain after video released in fatal Chicago police shooting of Dexter Reed
Questions remain after video released in fatal Chicago police shooting of Dexter Reed 06:20

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Police oversight officials on Tuesday released bodycam video of a shootout during a traffic stop last month in Humboldt Park that left 26-year-old Dexter Reed dead and a police officer wounded.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability said its initial review of the March 21 shootout in the 3800 block of West Ferdinand Street "appears to confirm that Mr. Reed fired first, striking the officer and four officers returned fire."

"Available preliminary evidence also confirms that officers returned fire approximately 96 times over a period of 41 seconds, including after Mr. Reed exited his vehicle and fell to the ground," COPA said in a statement. 

COPA said in a news release that Reed was pulled over for "purportedly not wearing a seatbelt." But a letter issued 11 days after the incident indicated that the oversight agency doubted a seatbelt violation was really the reason.

Dexter Reed, a former basketball player at Morton College, was killed in a shootout with Chicago police on March 21, 2024 Morton College

Mayor Brandon Johnson called the footage of the shootout "deeply disturbing" and "extremely painful and traumatic for many of our city's residents."

However, the mayor also said, "Shooting a police officer can never be condoned, or excused."

"I will never stand for that," he said.

The shootout followed a traffic stop, in which when five plainclothes CPD tactical unit officers in an unmarked squad car pulled Reed over.

Bodycam video shows fatal Chicago police shooting of Dexter Reed 06:36

In body camera footage, officers can be heard telling Reed to roll down his window, and asking him "what are you doing?"

After rolling down his window, Reed then starts rolling his window up, prompting officers to repeatedly tell him "don't roll the window up" and "unlock the doors."

Video released of fatal Chicago police shooting of Dexter Reed 10:48

COPA Chief Administrator Andrea Kersten said Reed did not comply with officers' verbal commands, and officers pointed guns at him as they continued to order him to unlock his car. Less than a minute after officers surrounded Reed's vehicle, the first shots were fired.

While the video does not clearly show a gun in Reed's hands, when the first gunshots rang out, the officer who was wounded in the shootout was standing on the passenger's side of Reed's SUV and immediately fell to the ground. Several other officers could be seen running for cover as shots continued to ring out. Video from a nearby home surveillance camera also showed what appeared to be smoke coming from inside the SUV as shots rang out.

As several officers shouted out "shots fired" and fired multiple shots at Reed's vehicle, the SUV rolled forward a few feet before Reed got out of the car, and officers continued to fire until Reed fell to the ground. At least one officer fired three shots after Reed fell to the ground, and appeared motionless.

Warning: Video contains graphic footage

Log #2024-0003052 BWC 1 by COPA Chicago on Vimeo

Once the shooting stopped, officers approached Reed as he was on the ground behind his SUV, and began checking Reed. One officer could be heard telling him "let go of the gun" before officers appeared to handcuff him.

However, COPA said a gun was recovered from the front passenger seat of Reed's vehicle, not from Reed himself.

Reed, a former basketball player at Morton College in Cicero, was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Kersten didn't point to a specific video, portion of video, or other element released that indicate why investigators believe Reed fired first. She said only that it was based on all of the video footage and ballistics evidence.

"Really, it's based on a review of all of the involved videos that capture this incident," she said. "I'm not drawing the public's attention to any specific element or detail, as much as just wanting to put all of the materials out for public consumption, and as the investigation proceeds, we will make public our final recommendations and findings when we can." 

Kersten said COPA is continuing to evaluate the entire shootout, including the officers' actions before the shooting, and whether officers properly followed training and CPD directives.

Warning: Video contains graphic footage

Log #2024-0003052 BWC 4 by COPA Chicago on Vimeo

Early Tuesday evening, CBS 2 obtained a letter issued by Kersten to police Supt. Larry Snelling – in which she wrote that "the available evidence calls into question the veracity" of the claim that a seatbelt violation was the initial reason for pulling over Reed. This was contrary to what COPA announced in a news release earlier in the day.

"Specifically, COPA is uncertain how the officers could have seen this seatbelt violation given their location relative to [the] vehicle and the dark tints on vehicle windows," Kersten wrote in the letter April 1. "This evidence raises serious concerns about the validity of the traffic stop that led to the officers' encounter [Reed]."

The letter questioned the officers' assessment of "what is a necessary, reasonable, and proportional use of deadly force."

The letter added that COPA had another investigation open for a traffic stop involving the same five officers, which occurred less than a month earlier and which was also purported to be based on a seatbelt violation.

Meanwhile, Mayor Johnson said he met with Reed's family after the shooting, and offered his condolences for his death.

"As mayor, and as a father raising a family, including two Black boys on the West Side of Chicago, I am personally devastated to see yet another young Black man lose his life during an interaction with the police," Johnson said. "Our heart breaks for the family of Dexter Reed. They are grieving the loss of a son, a brother, and a nephew."

Johnson said he is also praying for the recovery of the officer who was wounded in the shootout.

"Thankfully, he is recovering, but 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," he said.

Mayor Johnson discusses video of fatal police shooting of Dexter Reed 22:02

The mayor was once a teacher at Westinghouse College Prep High School, where Reed was a student and played on the basketball team.

"It weighs heavily on me that this event took place just blocks away from my own community, and it is not lost on me that both Dexter Reed and this officer could have been my students," Johnson said.

Warning: Video contains graphic footage

Log #2024-0003052 BWC 2 by COPA Chicago on Vimeo

In a letter from his lawyer to Johnson, Reed's family remembered him as a skilled basketball player for Morton College in Cicero, the middle of three siblings, known to friends, family, and coaches as "Dex."  

Reed's family was allowed to review the video on Monday, and has hired a lawyer who has called the shooting unjustified.

"I just miss my son. I'm hurt. I'm sick. I feel like I've been shot. My insides are burning up," said Reed's mother, Nicole Banks. "Why did they do that to my son?"

Tuesday morning, West Side faith leaders called for an independent investigation of the shooting.

"So much is unknown. There are so many questions. Why the traffic stop? How did the traffic stop lead from a traffic stop to a full shooting?" said Rev. Dr. Janette Wilson, senior advisor to Rev. Jesse Jackson at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

The officers involved in the shooting were placed on 30 days of administrative leave immediately after the shootout. COPA has recommended the officers involved be relieved of their police powers while the investigation continues.

Warning: Video contains graphic footage

Log #2024-0003052 BWC 3 by COPA Chicago on Vimeo

While COPA has yet to determine whether the officers' actions were justified, Kersten noted officers are required to use de-escalation tactics before using deadly force. Before the letter surfaced about the doubts about a seatbelt violation being the motive for the stop, Kersten said COPA also will look into whether the initial traffic stop was warranted, "and any other facts or circumstances that were relevant to this incident."

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx said her office will review the shootout and coordinate with COPA to determine if any criminal charges are warranted.

"It will be our job based on the totality of the evidence to determine whether the use of force in this case was beyond that force which is allowable under the law," Foxx said. 

Prosecutors also will interview all of the officers involved in the shooting later this week.

"It is imperative that we let the investigation take its course," Foxx said. "Be assured, our commitment to finding justice for everyone involved is unwavering. We ask for the family and community's patience and trust, as well as those of our law enforcement partners. We ask your patience and trust as we undertake this solemn duty."

Warning: Video contains graphic footage

Log #2024-0003052 BWC 5 by COPA Chicago on Vimeo
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