CHICAGO — A police officer has been charged with shooting a man in the Grand Red Line station in February 2020, a shooting that was recorded in a widely shared video that instantly became controversial.
Officer Melvina Bogard, 32, has been charged with aggravated battery with a firearm and official misconduct, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Bogard was on duty with the police Mass Transit Unit at the time of the Feb. 28, 2020, shooting inside the station below 521 N. State St.
During a bond hearing Thursday, Assistant State’s Attorney Ken Goff said Bogard and her partner were patrolling a moving Red Line train when they saw a man illegally crossing between cars. They spoke to him, and he said he was getting away from someone on the other car who was bothering him and he wanted to be left alone.
When the train reached the underground Grand Avenue station, the officers asked the man — later identified by police as Ariel Roman — to get off. While on the platform, they repeatedly asked for his identification, Goff said.
Roman turned away and opened his backpack. Bogard’s partner grabbed his coat sleeve and turned him back to face the officers. Roman pulled away from the officers and went toward the train tracks. The partner pulled him away from the tracks, launching a nearly eight-minute struggle that included all three going to ground near an escalator, Goff said.
The officers repeatedly ordered Roman to stop resisting and tried to handcuff him. At one point, he grabbed the partner and later his handcuffs and Taser, Goff said.
The officers tased the man repeatedly, and Bogard shot pepper spray in his face, getting some in her partner’s eyes as he struggled with Roman, Goff said. The officers repeatedly tried to call for a “10-1,” an officer in needed of assistance, but their radios could not transmit from the station.
Roman eventually got to his feet and the officers repeatedly told him to stop resisting, Goff said. Bogard, her gun out, told Roman to put his hands down and give his hands to the male officer.
“Shoot him!” the partner says on the video that captured much of the struggle and the shooting.
“Give him your hands!” Bogard yells. “Give him your hands!”
Roman wipes his eyes and steps forward. Bogard then shot him once in the chest, Goff said.
Roman ran up a nearby escalator. In the video, another shot can be heard being fired as the officers get toward the top of the escalator, and a woman screams.
Roman was critically wounded in his hip and buttocks and taken to Northwestern Hospital. He survived after multiple surgeries. He was initially charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana. Goff said the marijuana was found packaged for sale in his backpack. Those charges were later dropped.
Goff told the judge Bogard’s charges of official misconduct and aggravated use of firearm related to the first shot fired, when Roman was on the platform.
Bogard’s lawyer, Tim Grace, said the officer acted in self-defense after Roman advanced toward her after repeatedly ignoring commands. She followed the use of force guidelines “by the book” and shot him after pepper spray and tasers did not stop him and he advanced, he said.
Grace also said her partner, with pepper spray in his eyes, was in a “very precarious situation” and “completely out of this fight.”
And the “Chicago Police Department put these officers on trains without radios that can broadcast for backup,” Grace said.
“There’s no backup coming. Her partner at this point, your honor, is gassed. He’s out of fight. The effects of the pepper spray made him ineffective to engage in action.
“He advances for her. She is alone. The ‘L’ tracks are less than 15 feet away.
“This is self-defense.”
Bogard, who has been stripped of her police powers, was granted a $10,000 bond and ordered to return to court Aug. 18. She must surrender her firearm owner’s identification card, the judge ruled. She already surrendered her gun to police during the investigation.
Supt. David Brown has recommended Bogard be discharged from the Police Department. The case is pending before the Police Board.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
The video, as well as another that also shows Roman and officers struggling on the floor at the station before the shooting, spread quickly over social media. They were watched thousands of times.
At the time, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the video was “extremely disturbing and the actions by these officers are deeply concerning.” Activists held a protest near the station.
This March, the Sun-Times reported that federal authorities had opened a criminal investigation into the shooting.
One of Roman’s attorneys, Andrew Stroth, told the Sun-Times in January that Roman still had a bullet lodged inside his body and had racked up about $500,000 in medical bills from the shooting.
Separately, the local State’s Attorney’s Office’s Law Enforcement Accountability Division was reviewing the shooting. Bogard was charged as a result of that review.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.