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Dear CPD, please stop endangering bystanders by firing guns in stations and on trails

7:18 PM CDT on April 23, 2021

The Bloomingdale Trail at Central Park Avenue was closed Thursday morning in the wake of the police shooting. Photo: Ben Helphand, Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail

In February 2020, police shot Ariel Roman, 33, twice after trying to detain him for illegally walking between ‘L’ cars, inflicting life-changing injuries. Shockingly, after trying to subdue Roman with Tasers and Mace in the Grand Avenue Red Line station, an officer fired up an escalator at him, an incredibly reckless act that could have easily killed another CTA customer. Earlier this month the Chicago Police Department moved to fire the two cops who were involved.

And in the wake of the March 29 police killing of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy who was unarmed with his hands up at the moment he was shot in Little Village, there's renewed scrutiny of officers' decisions to fire their service pistols.

So I couldn't help smacking my head when I read that police once again pointlessly endangered bystanders in public space by firing at a carjacking suspect yesterday morning on the Bloomingdale Trail, at a time when the path is normally full of people bike commuting, jogging, and walking their dogs.

According to the the Chicago Police Department, which, it must be said, is not a particularly reliable source of information when it comes to police shootings (the CPD initially referred to the Toledo killing as taking place during "an armed confrontation"), around 7 a.m. Thursday, officers responded to a report of a carjacking in the 3700 block of West Bloomingdale Avenue, by the western terminus of the elevated trail, also known as The 606.

The 28-year-old male suspect tried to flee on foot, and officers pursued him onto the Bloomingdale. As you can see from WGN's aerial footage below, the suspect eventually jumped a fence at the west end of the trail, and then surrendered by laying on the ground.

According to CPD, police fired two shots during the chase, but no one was injured. The man was taken into custody around 7:30 a.m. The police department said the suspect was wanted in “several crimes involving a weapon just prior to his arrest," and a gun was recovered at the site.

The CPD says a comprehensive use of force investigation is being done by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, and the officers involved will be placed on routine administrative duties for the next month.

While it's fortunate no one was hurt during the confrontation, the officers' actions could have easily resulted in tragedy, including the death of a bystander, which would be a far worse outcome than letting a suspect get away. It's way past time for Chicago to reform the department's use of force policies, before some innocent person gets shot while catching a train or enjoying a trail.

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