COPA memo calls into question 'validity of the traffic stop' that led to fatal CPD shooting

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel, and Tom Jones WLS logo
Tuesday, April 9, 2024
COPA memo questions validity of traffic stop before fatal CPD shooting
A COPA memo questions the validity of the traffic stop that led to the police-involved Chicago shooting that killed Dexter Reed.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The ABC 7 I-Team has learned that the Civilian Office of Police Accountability has questioned the "validity of the traffic stop" that led to the fatal encounter between five Chicago police officers and 26-year-old Dexter Reed.

In a memo to Chicago Police Superintendent Larry Snelling from COPA Chief Administrator Andrea Kersten, dated April 1, Kersten requests that all four officers involved in the Dexter Reed shooting be stripped of their policing powers given their investigation's findings.

The memo was obtained by ABC7 through a Freedom of Information Act request.

"Based upon the serious nature of the allegations, including the questionable basis of the traffic stop and proportionality of the shooting, COPA recommends that CPD reevaluate the officers' current assignments and relieve them of police powers pending the resolution of COPA's investigation," the memo reads.

An 11th District Tactical Unit said it had pulled Reed over on March 26, shortly after 6 p.m. on the 3800 block of West Ferdinand Street after observing Reed not wearing a seatbelt.

But, in the memo, Kersten writes that, "the available evidence calls into question the veracity of this account. Specifically, COPA is uncertain how the officers could have seen this seat belt violation given their location relative to [Reed's] vehicle and the dark tints on [Reed's] vehicle windows."

On Tuesday, COPA released video materials of the shooting and said during a news conference that the officers fired at Reed a total of 96 times over a period of 41 seconds.

COPA said that Reed did not respond to the officers' verbal commands and that Reed shot at officers first, injuring one officer.

That's when officers returned fire.

One officer in particular, the memo notes, "fired at least 50 times, including the three final shots while [Reed] was lying motionless on the ground."

COPA also notes that all five officers involved the Reed shooting are named in another open COPA investigation "into another traffic stop... which occurred less than a month prior to this incident and was purportedly also based on a seat belt violation."

The Chicago Police Department did not respond to the I-Team's questions about the memo.

Bill Kushner, an ABC7 police affairs consultant, and former suburban police chief and Chicago police commander, said COPA's recommendation of relieving powers of officers involved goes too far.

"As a matter of policy, all the officers are assigned to administrative duties at this particular point in time for 30 days," Kushner said. "As far as assigning or stripping them of police powers, I think that's excessive on the part of COPA."

Kushner added, "This is a justifiable homicide. So, I question [COPA's] ability and their authority to investigate the shooting to begin with."