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Chicago shooting investigation could take up to 18 months

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A civilian police oversight board in Chicago is investigating a recent traffic stop that left a 26-year-old Black man dead and an officer wounded. From member station WBEZ, Anna Savchenko has this report. And here's a warning that this story contains the sound of gunshots.

ANNA SAVCHENKO, BYLINE: Ninety-six shots - that's how many bullets Chicago police officers fired at Dexter Reed Jr. last month. Reed was pulled over, allegedly for not wearing a seatbelt. Video footage shows the officers jumping out of their unmarked car, giving Reed verbal commands. Reed doesn't follow their orders.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Don't roll the window up. Don't roll the window up.

SAVCHENKO: Soon, the officers point their guns at him, and the first shots ring out.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOTS)

SAVCHENKO: One officer falls to the ground from a bullet to the forearm. The other four keep firing at Reed as he exits his vehicle, collapses to the ground and as he lies motionless. Officials with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, are investigating. They say Reed fired first. Still, they're concerned about the number of shots the officers fired back. And they question whether a seatbelt was the real reason police stopped Reed. Craig Futterman, a law professor at the University of Chicago, agrees.

CRAIG FUTTERMAN: When I watch the videos and I see the tinted windows, I don't even know how how you could see that.

SAVCHENKO: Futterman also questions why the police didn't de-escalate the situation. COPA says Reed had a gun but emerged from the car without it.

FUTTERMAN: When a man, young man, gets out of the car unarmed, and officers continue to shoot, and then, even worse, that same unarmed man is laying on the ground - officers continue to shoot - there isn't anything more unjustified than that.

SAVCHENKO: Four of the officers are on administrative duty for 30 days, but COPA wants them suspended for the duration of the probe. Chicago Police Superintendent Larry Snelling isn't planning on doing that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LARRY SNELLING: Those officers have not been interviewed. And without an interview of the officers, all of the evidence is not complete.

SAVCHENKO: COPA officials say they expect to conclude their investigation within 18 months.

For NPR News, I'm Anna Savchenko in Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Anna Savchenko