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Chicago police superintendent says officers in Dexter Reed shooting won't be stripped of police powers for now

A look at past complaints against officers involved in shooting of Dexter Reed
A look at past complaints against officers involved in shooting of Dexter Reed 03:33

CHICAGO (CBS) – Days after the release of dozens of videos related to the police shooting death of Dexter Reed during a traffic stop last month, Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling was asked Friday about the shooting.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, is investigating the shooting in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. The agency believes, based on preliminary evidence, that Reed fired at officers first, but there are still many unknowns about the conduct of the officers involved. A police officer was also wounded during the shooting.

Investigators were still looking into why Chicago police stopped Reed in the first place and why a tactical team conducted the traffic stop for a seatbelt violation.

"A police officer was shot. A man lost his life," Snelling said during a news conference on Friday.

In his first appearance since the public saw and heard five Chicago police officers fire 96 shots in 41 seconds, striking and killing Reed, 26, during the traffic stop, Snelling said at least for now, the officers will keep their police powers.

"I will not make a decision to strip officers until that investigation unfolds," Snelling said.

Snelling said he refuses to pass judgment on the videos released this week – insisting neither he nor anyone else can come to a conclusion on the case until all the facts have been gathered.

The superintendent appeared to be at odds with COPA, the agency investigating the killing. COPA had recommended the officers be relieved of their police powers while the investigation continues, in part because the same tactical group was being looked at for another traffic stop a few weeks ago.

Chicago police superintendent questioned about police shooting of Dexter Reed 03:25

Snelling said Friday that COPA had yet to interview the officers.

"We should let a proper investigation play out, and it should be fair across the board," he said. "Nothing and no one should be judged in a court of public opinion. So my concern is that the integrity of the investigation isn't jeopardized and all of the evidence is collected and looked at."

Past complaints against the officers involved in the Reed shooting

CBS 2 dug into the complaints filed against the five special operations officers. Among them, they have had 14 complaints in just the last year – including several complaints during traffic stops.

On March 6, just two weeks before Reed was stopped, someone alleged four of the officers stopped him without justification.

In that case, the complainant acknowledged his vehicle had tinted windows at time of stop, and also said the officers searched his car without justification. He was not arrested, nor given any tickets, the complaint document said.

This case remains under investigation.

Back on March 1, another citizen said one of the five officers showed "unprofessional police conduct," also alleging "an improper traffic stop and improper searches" This complaint is still under review.

Some of the complaints to COPA date back a few years. In September 2022, a driver was pulled over for what was said to be a "traffic stop for a front tinted windshield. The front seat occupants were ordered out and protested at first."

The September 2022 complaint continues: "The officers forcibly opened the passenger door and pulled him out and cuffed him," and then, "The officers conducted a brief search of the interior and turned off their body-worn camera early."

COPA found there was "insufficient evidence of misconduct" in that case.

Chicago police head says officers in Dexter Reed shooting won't be stripped of police powers 02:40

Meanwhile, one of the officers involved in the traffic stop is just 23 years old. Snelling was asked how that person made it to a specialized tactical team.

"This is something that we're looking into and when something happens, we make the assessments and this is part of my training background," Snelling said. "I look at game-time film. Where can we improve?"

He added that Chicago has a "very, very, very young [police] department."

The superintendent added that the Chicago Police Department recently started to use a dashboard that they plan to use to "regularly" monitor personnel with multiple complaints.

"It will give us alerts if we see officers who have multiple complaints and then at this point, we'll take action based on what we see," Snelling said.

He added that action could mean training, taking that officer off the street for a while, and then assessing the officer to see if they need help to deal with mental health concerns like post-traumatic stress disorder.

CBS 2 is looking into whether that dashboard will be made public and the role, if any, that COPA has in putting it together.

But again, the superintendent emphasized that he stands by leaving the officers on paid leave, and he insisted all the facts are not yet available. He said he will review the case once the probe is completed – not rushing to judgment.

COPA said it would not respond to Snelling's comments.

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