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Dexter Reed's family demands charges against Chicago police officers in fatal shooting

Crowd protests after release of video of police shooting that killed Dexter Reed
Crowd protests after release of video of police shooting that killed Dexter Reed 02:45

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The family of a man who was shot and killed by Chicago police in Humboldt Park last month raised questions Tuesday about the traffic stop that led to the deadly shootout, as well as why officers fired nearly 100 rounds, calling for criminal charges to be filed.

In the evening, the family later joined activists who denounced the actions of the officers involved, and chanted in favor of defunding police.

"This family doesn't want this to happen to anyone else," attorney Andrew Stroth said as he stood with the family of 26-year-old Dexter Reed on Tuesday outside the Civilian Office of Police Accountability during the midday hours, after the city's police oversight agency released video footage from the shooting.

Reed's family is demanding criminal charges against the officers, and is calling on the Chicago Police Department to disband tactical units like the one involved in the traffic stop and shooting.

COPA Chief Administrator Andrea Kersten said Tuesday the entire incident remains under investigation, but it appears that Reed fired first after officers surrounded his vehicle following a traffic stop in Humboldt Park on March 21.

Family demands charges in fatal Chicago police shooting of Dexter Reed 13:07

Stroth and other members of the Reed family's legal team criticized the officers' tactics, questioning why five plainclothes tactical officers pulled him over and approached his car with guns drawn for what was originally said to be "purportedly" not wearing his seatbelt.

Fellow civil rights attorney Steven Hart, who is also representing the Reed family, said the video released by COPA "leaves many, many questions."

"Why were tactical officers jumping out of an unmarked police car with their guns drawn for a simple traffic violation of not wearing your seatbelt?" he said. "He got guns in his face for not wearing a seatbelt. To us, to the family, that sounds disproportionate. It sounds pretextual. There is a problem with policing in this city when five tactical officers jump out of an unmarked police car, brandishing their weapons for a young man that wasn't wearing his seatbelt."

Reed's family has described him as a young man who loved playing basketball, and enjoyed healthy eating and cooking for his family. They also said he aspired to become a sports broadcaster after helping lead the Westinghouse College Prep High School team to a regional championship in 2016, before playing for the Morton College team in Cicero.

"Regardless of the person that they try to portray Dexter as, he was not one of those," said his sister, Porscha Banks.

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

Public records show Reed was arrested twice last year. In June, he was arrested on misdemeanor theft charges, accused of stealing a $950 designer shirt from a Saks Fifth Avenue store on the Magnificent Mile. In July, he was arrested on weapons charges, after police and prosecutors said he brought a loaded gun to the Windy City Smokeout festival, despite not having a valid FOID card or concealed carry license.

Kersten said on the day of the shootout with police, Reed had been driving west in the 3800 block of West Ferdinand Street when five plainclothes officers assigned to a tactical unit, driving an unmarked squad car, stopped Reed for what they claimed was his not wearing his seatbelt.

After officers surrounded his car and began to question him, Reed initially complied with their orders to roll down his window, before starting to roll it back up. As officers shouted at him to unlock his doors, shots rang out, and an officer standing on the passenger's side of Reed's SUV and immediately fell to the ground.

Several officers could then be seen running for cover and firing shots at Reed's SUV, before he got out and walked to the back of the vehicle, as officers continued to shoot him, and he fell to the ground.

Family of Dexter Reed wants consequences for officers who shot and killed him 02:23

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."

Warning: Video contains graphic footage

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

Kersten said officers fired approximately 96 shots in total, but did not say how many shots Reed fired.

Body camera footage shows one officer fired at least three shots after Reed fell to the ground, but was still moving.

Stroth described those final shots as "an officer military-style executing Dexter while he laid by his vehicle, unarmed and helpless."

Reed's uncle, Roosevelt Banks, said "That is nothing but plain murder, to me."

Family of Dexter Reed says police shooting that killed him was an assassination 02:28

While the Reed family's attorneys did not directly address COPA's assertion that it appears Reed fired first, they suggested he feared for his life when five plainclothes officers surrounded his vehicle pointing weapons. They also said the officers never announced themselves as police during the incident.

"Imagine a 26-year-old, not having known what he did wrong, and having five guns pointed at him. Do you believe he was frightened? Do you think his security and health and safety was threatened? So oftentimes we hear in unjustified shootings that officers felt they were at risk, that there was danger, because someone was pointing a gun at them. Yet, when they create the same set of circumstances, they fire away 96 times in 41 seconds," Hart said. "It doesn't seem right to this family. It should not be comfortable for the citizens of Chicago."

Warning: Video contains graphic footage

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

Reed's uncle, Roosevelt Banks, said if he had been in Reed's shoes, he would have feared for his life seeing five plainclothes officers wearing hoodies surround his car with guns drawn.

"If I was in that situation, I would be terrified. I wouldn't know how to specifically react other than to protect myself if that was the case," he said.

Reed's mother, Nicole Banks, broke down into tears and collapsed into the arms of her family as she recalled the last time she saw her son alive.

"I just miss my son. I'm hurt. I'm sick. I feel like I've been shot. My insides is burning up. Why they did that to my son? They didn't have to do him like that," she said. "He had just bought his new car three days before that, and he was just riding around in his car. He said, 'Mom, I'm going for a ride.'"

Warning: Video contains graphic footage

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

Sheila Bedi, a law professor at Northwestern and a civil rights attorney who is also on the Reed family's legal team, said the shooting is an example of continued systemic deficiencies at the Chicago Police Department, which has completed only a fraction of court-ordered reforms under a 2017 consent decree.

Bedi said officers should have been using de-escalation tactics, but claimed they instead caused tensions to rise as they questioned Reed.

"Every single thing every single police officer did in this police encounter escalated it over and over, from coming out of the car with their guns out, to screaming commands, to brandishing their weapons inside the window – escalating over and over and over again," she said.

Bedi also claimed officers did not render first aid to Reed as required after shooting him.

"These are not just the actions of individual bad officers. These are the result of systemic deficiencies that have persisted, despite the millions of dollars that have been invested in police reform," she said. "Justice for Dexter Reed requires changing these policies once and for all, and an end to the empty platitudes."

Warning: Video contains graphic footage

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

The Reed family's attorneys said Mayor Brandon Johnson met with the family over the weekend, and they believe he is committed to change at the Chicago Police Department, and is committed to a full and open investigation.

"We believe that, under his leadership, Chicago can change," Stroth said.

"We need to straighten this out, and I just want justice for my son. I want to see the officers held accountable," said Nicole Banks.

"It must stop," said Porscha Banks. "It ain't the first person to happen to, and if there won't be justice; if they're not held accountable, it won't be the last person."

Stroth said the family is demanding criminal charges against the officers who shot Reed, and that the Chicago Police Department demand tactical units, claiming they "have been terrorizing communities, folks, and communities on the West and South sides."

"How many more young Black and Brown men need to die before this city will change?" he said.

In sharing their view of the shootout, Reed's family did not mention the police officer who was shot and wounded.

Warning: Video contains graphic footage

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

Heated protest follows release of video of shootout

Reed's family was also present for a demonstration outside Chicago Police Harrison District and Area Headquarters, 3151 W. Harrison St. The crowd was fired up and emotional as they demanded what they called justice for Reed.

"No justice, no peace! Defund the police!" activists chanted.

The family and activists again questioned how and why five special ops officers responded to a traffic spot with their guns drawn.

"Unloading your clip three times - shooting over 35 times - is murder," said Porscha Banks.

"If it couldn't get more sicker, they continued to shoot his lifeless body, handcuff him after they already killed the brother," an activist said at the rally.

Activists also took issue with his characterization as a criminal.

"Most of the killing police have done over the past five years - that narrative has been, 'Oh, that person had a gun,' so they try to justify every murder," a man said.

"If CPD is continued to operate like this, we can only expect more deaths at the hands incompetent officers pulling over residents in their own communities," an activist said.

The rally was met by a lone Chicago Police supporter, who pointed out that Reed also shot an officer.

A woman warned him, "Don't be over here trying to instigate and incite nothing."

The demonstration continued for an hour, and eventually spilled over into the nearby intersection of Kedzie Avenue and Harrison Street.

The peaceful protest blocked the street – and then a few in the crowd clashed briefly with officers. More officers came out of the police station and restored order.

Chicago Police arrested one person.

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