2 Chicago officers acquitted of unarmed man’s shooting
Two Chicago police officers accused of shooting an unarmed man and then lying about it were acquitted by a judge Thursday.
Sgt. Christopher Liakopoulos and Officer Ruben Reynoso were within their rights to protect themselves when they opened fire, wounding 23-year-old Miguel Medina twice on July 22, 2022, Cook County Judge Lawrence Flood ruled.
“The officers were not the aggressors,” Flood said, stating it was Medina and a juvenile who approached their vehicle.
“I find both officers acted within reason in firing their weapons under these particular circumstances,” the judge said following a two-day bench trial.
The courtroom gallery packed with officers, police union officials and other supporters of Liakopoulos and Reynoso burst into applause at the verdict.
Liakopoulos and Reynoso had each been charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm and official misconduct.
Prosecutors had argued during the trial that the officers provoked a gunfight with the teen, who was armed, and then shot and wounded Medina.
The officers said they came under fire and shot Medina in self-defense, but no gun was found near him. The officers said Medina and the teen fired first, but surveillance footage contradicted their account, and the Cook County State Attorney’s Office found the officers had fired first.
Medina testified that he thought the unmarked police car contained gang members, so he put his hands up to show he was unarmed. He held a cellphone and wine bottle in one hand, and the other was empty.
“As the victim and juvenile approached the vehicle, the juvenile held onto the firearm,” Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Alyssa Janicki said. “The victim was unarmed.”
As the armed teen ran off, officers fired shots from the car, and Medina was struck.
The teen then fired, but neither officer was hit.
Defense attorney Tim Grace, said during opening arguments that the officers “were faced with a deadly threat, and their actions were a reasonable use of deadly force.”
Medina was shot three times, including twice in the back, according to Gregory Kiki, his attorney.
The officers were headed to training at the police academy at the time of the shooting.