LITTLE VILLAGE — The Civilian Office of Police Accountability has opened a preliminary investigation into an incident where a man was tasered after filming police officers during a traffic stop at a Little Village gas station.
The encounter captured in a now-viral video shows Chicago Police officers tasering and pepper spraying Angel Ramirez in front of his children after he recorded a traffic stop where cops were cuffing a different man on July 3.
His wife Anna Morentin captured the incident from inside the SUV and uploaded the video the following day. It has been viewed more than 350,000 times.
On Thursday, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability confirmed they opened a preliminary investigation.
“Although COPA does not investigate all taser discharges, we will review the incident to determine if it is within our jurisdiction or if the case will be referred to the Bureau of Internal Affairs (BIA),” a Civilian Office of Police Accountability spokesperson said in a statement.
In the video, Ramirez, who is standing a few feet from the car as the officers try to cuff another man, is approached by a police officer who asks him to “back away” because he is at a “crime scene.”
As Ramirez slowly backs away from the officer, the officer walks toward Ramirez, grabs his arm and reaches for Ramirez’s phone. As Ramirez and two officers step out of frame, Ramirez is heard telling officers “not to touch him” before being pushed on to the hood of a SUV.
As several officers enter the scuffle, Ramirez struggles with them as they try to cuff him. The officers then back away and tase Ramirez.
In the video, Ramirez asks if they are filming and can be heard saying he had be tasered four times.
According to police, officers were conducting a traffic stop of another vehicle when Ramirez approached officers “aggressively” before asking him to step away, police said.
“Officers deployed OC spray, which was unsuccessful, so officers then deployed a taser,” police said.
Ramirez was later treated and released from St. Anthony’s Hospital, Chicago Police Department confirmed via email.
However, the video uploaded disputes the police account of Ramirez walking toward officers.
The Chicago Police Department declined a request for dash cam or body cam footage showing Ramirez walking toward police officers.
“Because this incident is still under investigation, we’re not able to comment on or release any further information other than the narrative of what occurred and the offender charges,” said Sally Bown, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Police Department.
Another police spokesman, Sgt. Cindy Guerra, defended the officer’s actions, saying that “anyone is allowed to record an on-duty law enforcement officer where there is no expectation of privacy. However, a law enforcement officer is also authorized to take reasonable action in order to secure a scene, ensure the safety of other officers and arrestees and to maintain order during the commission of their particular duties.”
Ramirez is facing two misdemeanor counts of resisting or obstructing an officer, according to police.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.