Superintendent Charlie Beck made the decision hours after the head of the agency that investigates officer-involved shootings in Chicago, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, recommended that he take that step.
The officers, whose names haven't been released, were placed on desk duty after Friday's shooting, in keeping with the department's policy in cases in which officers shoot people. Beck's move Wednesday meant the pair would have to turn in their weapons and would lose their power to make arrests until the investigation into the shooting concludes.
“Due to the serious nature of both officers' actions, I felt it necessary to recommend the officers involved be relieved of police powers while we continue to investigate the incident,” Sydney Roberts, COPA's chief administrator, said in a statement earlier Wednesday.
In addition to COPA's probe, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and the FBI are investigating the shooting of 33-year-old Ariel Roman, which was captured on cellphone video that has been widely viewed online.
The Fraternal Order of Police, the police officers'union, reacted angrily to Beck's decision to strip the two officers of their police powers. “The FOP believes no officer should be subject to discipline until an investigation is completed,” said Martin Preib, a union official. "COPA should not be pandering to the media until the investigation has taken place.
The shooting happened Friday afternoon at a Red Line L station in downtown Chicago, when the two officers responded to another officer's call for assistance with a man spotted jumping from one train car to another, which is illegal.
The widely circulated video taken by someone who was in the station shows a male officer lying on top of the suspect at the base of an escalator and struggling to keep the man still. The man can be heard saying, “I did nothing to you,” as the officer keeps telling him, “Stop resisting.” As they stand up, a female officer appears to try to pepper spray the man's face, before telling the man to show his hands so the officers can handcuff him.
The man refuses to be handcuffed and as he stands, stun guns that the officers apparently used on the man can be seen on the floor. With the man still struggling to get away, the female officer shouted, “Give him your hands,” and a gunshot rang out. As the man fled up the escalator with the officers in pursuit, a second shot was fired out of view of the camera, though it's unclear which officer fired the shots.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot quickly said she found the actions of the officers as they played out on the video “deeply concerning” and that she supported Beck's decision to ask prosecutors to go to the scene. A police spokesman said that Beck had “significant tactical concerns” about the officers' actions.
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 Beck's request.
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Martin Preib's last name, which had been misspelled “Prieb.”