Chicago police officer appears to punch man in widely shared video; COPA investigating

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An investigation has been launched into a video circulating on social media that appears to show a Chicago police officer arguing with a man and repeatedly throwing punches at a bystander who tried to intervene.

In the video, shot from above the confrontation, a group of about five or six men is seen standing on the sidewalk facing several police officers.

Words are exchanged between the group and police officers. At one point, a man in a white shirt shoves a man in a blue shirt. The two appear to briefly argue and squabble while moving away from officers.

Then their attention turns to the officers in front of them. The man in the white shirt appears to yell at one of the police officers, who approaches. Not all their words are clear, but as one officer and the man in the white shirt begin focusing on one another, the man in the white shirt appears to challenge the cop, suggesting the cop won’t do anything.

It sounds as if the police officer replies, “Oh, really?”

He charges toward the man in white. But the man in the blue shirt holds back the man in the white shirt and stands between him and the police officer. It looks in the video as though he’s trying to stem the conflict and keep the two men from fighting.

Instead, as the officer pushes toward the man in white, he and the man in blue collide, appearing to push each other. Then the police officer began throwing punches, hitting the man in blue — who had tried to intervene — multiple times in the face, according to the video.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, has since opened an investigation into the video, according to Director of Public Affairs Jennifer Rottner.

“There is an initial log number,” Rottner said. “We will take a look at the incident and determine its jurisdiction, but it’s just too early to do so. We were just sent the video, I believe, last night.”

The investigation initially was launched by the Chicago Police Department, as there was not a complainant who submitted the video. It was published online to the Instagram account for “Chicago Media Takeout,” an urban news outlet. The caption for the video says it was “sent to us by a follower.” It wasn’t immediately clear who owned the rights to the video.

Neither Rottner nor CPD spokesperson Don Terry was able to provide any more details on the video, including the time or place of the video, saying it was under investigation.

“It’s under investigation internally,” Terry said, implying anything that was not readily apparent in the video was a part of the investigation and would not be disclosed immediately.

Chicago Tribune’s Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas contributed.

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