PILSEN — The family of Miguel Vega, who was fatally shot by Chicago police in August, is demanding criminal charges be brought agains tthe responsible officer after viewing body cam footage of the shooting.
Vega’s relatives said Thursday the footage released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability last week casts doubt on police account of what happened August 31.
Police said officers were driving on the 1300 block of West 19th Street around 10:45 p.m. that night when they saw five people standing on the sidewalk. Someone then shot at their car, according to police and a witness who spoke to Block Club. One officer returned fire, fatally striking Vega.
Police have not said who they think fired at them, but Vega’s family repeatedly has said they do not believe the 26-year-old had a gun.
“The police officer that shot my brother did not have any right to shooting him behind the head,” Erik Vega said.
Relatives said they were “deeply disappointed” and “angry,” adding that no one from the department has reached out to speak to them about the shooting.
“We want answers,” Erik Vega said. “What’s holding you back?”
Body Cam Footage
Last week, the police oversight agency released the graphic footage that includes video and audio recordings from the two officers dispatched to the West 19th Street.
There also is footage from eight other body cameras worn by officers who responded to the shooting.
Footage from one camera shows an officer riding in the passenger seat of an unmarked police car with the window mostly rolled down. 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 also does not have sound for the first few moments.
His video appears to show the officer diving to the ground outside the police car and drawing his weapon. At that point, audio activates and several gun shots can be heard.
That officer’s footage then shows him approaching the people on the ground, then approaching Vega, who is lying on his stomach and not moving. The officer then rolls Vega onto his back and sees he has been shot.
As more officers arrive on the scene, footage shows them searching Vega for a weapon.
As officers are surveying the scene, the officer who fired the shots can be heard saying someone shot at them, shattering the window of their car.
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 shot in his head. He was taken to Stroger Hospital in critical condition and died.
A spokesman for COPA did not immediately respond for comment on the status of the investigation.
‘It’s been one month and the police still hasn’t talked to us‘
Eric Vega said he watched every second of the police footage and said the number of shots police fired “were unjust.”
Instead of helping his brother, Vega said police officers were more concerned with finding a gun.
One officer can be heard alerting dispatch that Vega was shot, but no officers could be seen providing any aid in the several minutes of footage.
“It really hurts to see that as they saw my brother lying there on the floor gasping for air, all they cared about was trying to find a weapon.”
“They turned him around, they [saw] him gasping for air and they remained concerned trying to find a gun…After that, they didn’t make an effort to try to help him out,” he said. “I don’t think it’s right that they just let him die there.”
Now, they say, they want someone from the police department to come speak to their family.
“It’s been one month and the police still hasn’t talked to us,” Vega’s mother, Maria Vega, said in Spanish. “The police isn’t doing their job as they should.
“I’m waiting for justice for my son. And the police who killed my son should pay for what he did.”
The family said they wouldn’t quit until they received answers.
“My brother’s life is already taken. The least you can do is come answer our questions. Show your faces is what I really want,” Erik Vega said. “You’re supposed to serve and protect. You’re not serving us you’re not serving the community by not answering our questions.”