PILSEN — Three weeks after Chicago Police fatally shot Miguel Vega in Pilsen in an alleged shootout, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability released police body camera footage of the shooting.
The graphic footage the police oversight agency made public includes video and audio recordings from the two officers dispatched to the 1300 block of West 19th Street Aug. 31, one of whom fired shots that killed 26-year-old Vega. There also is footage from eight other body cameras worn by officers responding to the shooting.
Footage from one camera shows an officer riding in the passenger seat of an unmarked police car with the passenger window partially rolled down at one point. The video shows the officer pointing at something ahead of the car. The car stops and the officer opens his door.
The officers then appear to duck and the officer riding in the passenger seat takes out his gun and fires several shots.
There is no audio during this first few minutes of the video, including when the officer shoots. The footage then shows the officer approaching the sidewalk with his weapon drawn, pointing it at two people on the ground who have their hands raised.
Footage from the officer who was driving shows him exiting the car and then diving to the ground. Audio clicks on at this point and someone can be heard firing several shots.
The officers run toward the sidewalk with their weapons drawn, according to the video.
“Get on the ground! Get on the f—ing ground!” an officer yells.
After the shooting stops, the officers approach Vega, who is lying face down on the sidewalk. The police officer driving the car rolls him onto his back.
“We got a person shot!” an officer says into his radio.
As more officers arrive on the scene, footage shows them searching Vega for a weapon. In video footage, Vega can be heard moaning but he is not moving. Other officers scrambled to search the area for weapons as the other two men near Vega are placed in handcuffs and searched.
In a preliminary statement, police said officers were driving on West 19th Street when they saw five people standing on the sidewalk and someone shot at their car.
Neither officer’s body cam audio was operating when they first arrived at the scene but the officer who fired the shots later can be heard telling other officers that someone shot at them, shattering the window of their car.
After shots are fired, the footage briefly shows part of the broken front passenger window in the frame, and pieces of glass on the ground.
A gun was recovered at the scene, police previously said. Officers can be heard in the video shouting “we got it!” and “we got the gun!” in the video, pointing beneath a car parked on the street three or four car lengths away from Vega.
Vega, of suburban Calumet City, was struck in his head during the shooting. He was taken to Stroger Hospital in critical condition and died, authorities said.
Police have not identified Vega as the person who shot at officers.
A resident who declined to be identified for fear of retribution said they were out on a walk when they saw at least three men, whom they didn’t recognize, standing on the block before the shooting happened. Shortly after, a neighbor called 911 to report suspicious men on the block and police officers responded to the scene in an unmarked car
Someone standing with the group of men “shot at the police, and the police shot back and killed one of them,” the witness said.
When police returned fire, the men started running away, the witness said.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Vega’s family said they were skeptical of the police account, saying they did not believe he had a gun or shot at police.
Vega’s relatives could not immediately be reached for comment.
“I want to know the truth. It’s not fair. I don’t think my son would have shot at police,” Vega’s mother Maria Vega told Block Club last month.
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