CHICAGO—A Chicago police officer who shot an unarmed man in the back as he tried to escape capture by running up an escalator in a busy subway station has been charged with felony aggravated battery with a firearm and official misconduct, prosecutors said Thursday.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said in a news release that Melvina Bogard, 32, turned herself in to investigators on Thursday morning and was scheduled to appear in court for a bail hearing later in the day.
The shooting happened in February 2020 at a downtown station. Bogard and another officer were pursuing Ariel Roman, a short-order cook who was suspected of violating a city ordinance by walking from one train car to another.
Cellphone video shot by a bystander that was made public almost immediately received national attention, as did footage from police body cameras and Chicago Transit Authority surveillance cameras released two months later. The footage shows officers chasing Roman and Bogard shooting him at the foot of the escalator and then shooting him the back from about 10 feet away.
Roman survived the shooting and filed a federal lawsuit that alleged Bogard and the other officer, Bernard Butler, “chased, tackled, pepper-sprayed, Tasered and shot twice.”
The announcement of charges was not surprising given the actions of the then-police superintendent and the comments made by his spokesman and the mayor.
Interim Superintendent Charlie Beck signaled his concern almost immediately and took the unusual step of requesting that prosecutors be sent directly to the Red Line L station where the shooting occurred.
At the time, Anthony Guglielmi, Beck’s spokesman, said that while the superintendent “doesn’t want to rush to judgment,” the incident raised significant tactical concerns about the officers’ actions.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot expressed her support for Beck’s decision to send prosecutors to the scene as well as her concerns about what she called the “extremely disturbing” cellphone video.
Also, while officers involved in a shooting are always immediately placed on desk duty, Beck took the unusual step of stripping them of their police powers pending the outcome of an investigation.
If anything, those concerns only deepened when, a couple of months later, extended security and body-camera video was also released, showing Bogard shooting Roman in the back from about 10 feet as he ran up the escalator.
In April this year, Police Superintendent David Brown recommended to the police board that Bogard be fired. On Thursday, the department said the police board has not yet made a decision and declined to comment on her arrest.
By Don Babwin