CHICAGO — A Chicago police officer shot a driver who tried to ram his way out of being boxed-in by a squad car, pinning the officer's foot between two cars, authorities said.
The driver survived the shooting, but was listed in critical condition. The officer, who had leapt on the hood of the vehicle trying to escape, injured his foot and was hospitalized.
It happened around 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Humboldt Park.
Tactical unit officers from the Harrison District spotted four men near the corner of South Springfield Avenue and West Chicago Avenue.
They were “known narcotics operators,” said Pat Camden, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police union. Chicago Police said their officers saw the men conducting a drug transaction.
When officers identified themselves, a suspect ran into a nearby lot, said Officer John Mirabelli, a police spokesman. The suspect got into a van in the lot on the 3900 block of West Chicago Avenue and locked the door, Camden said.
A squad car blocked the van in, and an officer yelled at the suspect to get out, he said.
Instead, the van pulled forward, pinning the officer between it and the squad car. Camden said the officer jumped on the van's hood to avoid being caught between the two vehicles; his foot was then caught between the van and the squad car's grill.
The suspect was "using the vehicle as a weapon to knock down the officer," Mirabelli said. "The officer was in fear of his safety due to this individual's aggressive and dangerous behavior, in fear for his life."
“At that point, the officer opens fire, defending his life,” Camden said.
The officer fired three times, striking the driver of the van. He was taken in critical condition to Mt. Sinai Hospital, said fire department spokesman Larry Langford.
The officer was taken UIC Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries to his foot, Camden said.
He said police found heroin in the van.
The Independent Police Review Authority is investigating the case.
Witnesses painted a different picture, saying they saw the officer was unprovoked when he fired.
Lavardis Brooks, 35 said he was outside Union Star Baptist Church, 3915 W. Chicago Ave., where he was attending a funeral, when he saw the officer jump on the hood of the van.
The van bumped into the police cruiser that was blocking it in, Brooks said. The officer yelled at the driver to stop. When the van van stopped, Brooks said he saw the officer fire three rounds into the van.
Witness John Sampson saw police block the van's exit.
"They jumped on the dude's hood and started shooting," witness John Sampson said.