LOGAN SQUARE — Months after a police oversight agency called on the Chicago Police Department to strip Officer Evan Solano of his police powers, the department finally took the action, Supt. David Brown said Monday.
Despite facing two separate investigations for killing a young father in Portage Park and pulling his weapon on a driver in Logan Square, Solano was still carrying his gun and badge until recently.
Brown would not comment further on the decision.
City and police officials have been tight-lipped about Solano’s fate as a cop since he fatally shot 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez in his back March 31. When videos of the shootings were released, Civilian Office of Police Accountability officials made the unusual recommendation that the police department strip Solano of his police powers during their investigation, which would forbid him from carrying a badge or a gun.
But the department did nothing, until now. Solano had been put on desk duty, which is standard after police shootings. With the COPA investigation ongoing, video surfaced last month of a uniformed Solano arguing with another driver in Logan Square and taking out his gun as the confrontation escalated.
In the weeks after that incident, police and city officials would not say whether he had been disciplined.
Solano shot Alvarez on March 31 during a foot chase just blocks from Alvarez’s Portage Park home in the 5200 block of West Eddy Street. Police officials have not said why officers were chasing Alvarez and have refused to answer basic questions about the case for months.
Body camera videos show Alvarez was carrying a gun, but he wasn’t recorded raising or pointing it during the chase. Solano fired at least five shots at Alvarez as he ran, hitting him in his back and left knee, autopsy records show.
Alvarez’s grieving relatives have pushed for Solano to be fired and charged with murder.
Steven Fine, one of the lawyers representing Alvarez’s family, said Brown’s decision was long overdue.
“The city needs to act in a more expeditious fashion,” he said.
The road rage incident occurred May 21 and was caught on video by several bystanders in the 2900 block of West Logan Boulevard.
The footage shows an escalating traffic dispute between Solano and the driver of a white SUV. The other driver gets out of his car and threatens Solano, who was sitting behind the wheel of his red Ford Mustang, a personal car.
The videos later show Solano, in uniform, out of his car and confronting the SUV driver with his gun drawn as the two continue shouting at each other and bystanders urge Solano to put away his weapon.
In the months following Alvarez’s death, his family has hosted vigils, led marches and asked people to sign a petition demanding Solano be stripped of his police powers and face criminal charges.
“I don’t know why it’s taken this long for the city to strip him of his police powers. Especially after the whole Logan Square incident,” said Roxana Figueroa, Alvarez’s cousin. “Knowing he lost his police powers is like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I had feared he would put someone else’s life in danger because of what he did in the Logan Square incident and what he did to my cousin. I’m glad he doesn’t have that power anymore because he just doesn’t know how to act.”
Figueroa said her family will continue calling for criminal charges to be filed against Solano.
“I want to thank everyone who has helped us share Anthony’s story and demanded justice for him,” Figueroa said. “This is good news that will bring some peace to my family. But we still want him to pay for Anthony’s murder and face criminal charges.”
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