Bench Trial Clears Chicago Officer Who Shot Man At Busy El Station

A Chicago police officer who was criminally charged in connection with an on-duty shooting at a busy CTA platform during rush hour in 2020 was cleared by a judge on Tuesday. The decision was criticized by police reform advocates and the attorneys for the man who was shot but cheered by some in the packed courtroom.

Ariel Roman was shot on February 28, 2020, at the Grand Avenue Red Line station. The incident was recorded on cell phone video and quickly went viral, drawing swift condemnation from the local community and city officials. Melvina Bogard, 33, was charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct.

Bogard, a CPD officer since November 2017, chose to have his case heard by a judge rather than a jury. He started appearing before Cook County Judge Joseph Claps in September.

Claps announced his decision in front of a courtroom with increased security, warning those present that anyone reacting would be detained. At the conclusion, a group praised the decision, but deputies soon ordered them to leave.

Roman had “zero credibility,” according to Claps, who also claimed that when he took a Taser, Roman constituted a threat to the on-scene officers. Roman’s statement, according to Claps, was an “absurdity,” and he may have lied during his evidence due to contradictions in what he stated happened before and during the shooting.

He ignores every directive given to him from the moment he is spoken to after exiting one train car to the next, according to Claps. Never one.

According to the prosecution, Bogard and her partner, Bernard Butler, were patrolling the Red Line that afternoon when they observed Roman slipping in between open train car doors. Prosecutors claim that when the train stopped at Grand, the cops requested Roman for identification, to which Roman allegedly responded by turning away and opening his rucksack.

Prosecutors claim that Butler then pulled at Roman’s sleeve, igniting a protracted fight in which both officers tased Roman without seeming to have any impact. Prosecutors claim that during their battle, Roman at one time took control of Butler’s Taser and handcuffs while Bogard pepper sprayed Butler, also rendering him unconscious.

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Prosecutors claim that as soon as Roman stood up, Bogard told him she was going to shoot him, and Butler gave the order. Butler moved away from Roman as Bogard pulled her weapon and demanded that Roman display his hands. When Roman moved forward to wipe his eyes, Bogard allegedly opened fire, shooting him in the “chest/abdomen” region.

Roman allegedly fled up the escalator while Bogard and Butler pursued him when the revolver allegedly discharged a second time, striking Roman in the hip. Roman got away with the shooting.

No weapon was discovered on Roman by the police.

At her 2021 bond hearing, Bogard’s defense attorney claimed that Bogard shot Roman in self-defense because Roman outweighed her during the battle.

Claps claimed that Roman outweighed Bogard and her companion in “strength” and that she was unaffected by attempts to stop her with pepper spray or the Taser.

Although Tim Grace, Bogard’s attorney, told reporters that today is “not a day to celebrate” after the hearing, Bogard declined to remark outside the courtroom.

Roman “ignored over 30 verbal commands,” according to Grace, while he was battling the officers.

Officer Bogard was put in a predicament where she had to make a choice, according to Grace. She could have fled, but that’s not what she does. We don’t pay her to do it. To keep the trains safe, we pay her.

Roman had no weapon, according to the lawyers who are representing him in the civil lawsuit he filed against the Chicago Police Department, and was shot in the back while attempting to flee. Roman’s lawyer Greg Kulis questioned the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s decision to prosecute Bogard with a single offense for the first shooting but not the second.

Roman’s second attorney, Gloria Rodriguez, claimed that although he recently had a colonoscopy bag removed, issues with the bag require him to have another surgery. He will have an “uphill struggle” to recuperate, according to her.

She explained, “If you get shot, your first thought is, ‘I need to be protected,’ and that’s precisely what the video revealed.

The Tree of Life Justice League of Illinois activist Eric Russell attacked Claps for failing to hold Bogard responsible for using what he considered to be excessive force.

We vigorously promote police reform, accountability, and transparency, Russell stated. That didn’t occur today.

The two officers’ protracted fight to apprehend Roman was captured on the popular Twitter videos of the incident. A male cop later identified as Butler reportedly yelled “shoot him” at one point while Roman writhed on the ground resisting the police’ attempts to restrain him, according to one of the recordings.

In one of the recordings, Roman can be heard pleading with the officers to let him go and telling them that he did nothing wrong. I did not harm you in any way.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot described the videos as “very unsettling” in a tweet sent out quickly after they went viral. The police department had “severe tactical issues” about the officers’ behavior, according to a police spokesman.

Roman claimed in a federal lawsuit that the officers harassed, chased, tackled, pepper sprayed, tasered, and twice shot him while he was having an anxiety attack.

Superintendent David Brown has recommended firing Bogard and Butler in cases before the police board.

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