A longtime Chicago police officer was fired Thursday night for shooting 16 times at the wrong car during an off-duty incident more than five years ago.
In an 8-0 vote, the Chicago Police Board voted at its monthly meeting to dismiss Officer Francisco “Frank” Perez for the 2011 shooting outside a Mexican restaurant in the East Ukrainian Village neighborhood. One board member, John O’Malley, did not vote because he’s new to the board.
Lori Lightfoot, who heads the Chicago Police Board, said the board found Perez at fault for not identifying the appropriate target and not taking “reasonable precautions” before firing his gun at the wrong car. But he was not dismissed for allegations that he made false statements to IPRA investigators about how the shooting unfolded.
The case marked the first time since its inception in 2007 that the Independent Police Review Authority, the city’s much-maligned police oversight agency, had recommended that a Chicago police officer be dismissed for a shooting.
Perez, an officer since 1999, could appeal his firing to Cook County Circuit Court.
The driver of the car that Perez fired at was wounded.
Perez’s firing comes weeks after the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report on Chicago police that, among other things, faulted officers for resorting to force too often and criticized officer training as woefully inadequate.
According to authorities, the shooting occurred shortly before 4 a.m. Nov. 5, 2011, outside the La Pasadita restaurant in the 1100 block of North Ashland Avenue. Perez was off-duty and working security for the restaurant when an occupant of a red Mitsubishi Galant opened fire after pulling up beside a blue Chrysler 300M that was double-parked in front of the restaurant.
Three people standing outside the restaurant were shot, one fatally.
The evidence against Perez hinged largely on video obtained from a surveillance camera outside the restaurant.
After the Mitsubishi had sped from the scene, the footage showed Perez moving toward the Chrysler and firing his weapon at the rear of the vehicle, according to IPRA. Perez continued to fire as the Chrysler took off, IPRA said.
Yet even after viewing the video in 2015, Perez continued to maintain that he had fired at the red car.
In testifying before a Police Board hearing officer last year, Perez did not dispute that he mistakenly shot an occupant in the Chrysler but said he was aiming at the red car seconds after the drive-by shooting.
A lawyer representing the Police Department contended that Perez should be fired for lying and shooting an “innocent bystander.” Continue Reading
Article Org: chicagotribune.com