Chicago Cop Loses Police Powers In Off-Duty Killing Of Unarmed Man

“It was not justified. It wasn’t justified. It was not,” Jose Nieves' father said.
Jose Nieves, 38, was unarmed when he was shot to death by an off-duty Chicago police officer on Monday.
Jose Nieves, 38, was unarmed when he was shot to death by an off-duty Chicago police officer on Monday.

A Chicago police officer who authorities said shot an unarmed man to death during an off-duty dispute was stripped of his authority this week while the department investigates.  

The 57-year-old veteran officer, who has not been identified, shot the man multiple times Monday morning after a “verbal altercation,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a press conference Monday. Media reports have identified the victim as 38-year-old Jose Nieves.

The officer, who was assigned to the transit detail, will continue to be paid while the investigation proceeds, according to the Chicago Tribune. Stripping his police powers is the “strongest step a department can take” during an open investigation, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the paper.

Johnson said the officer was visiting an acquaintance near the shooting scene and knew Nieves from a previous dispute. 

Nieves’ death was ruled a homicide. The only weapon recovered after the shooting belonged to the officer, Johnson said. 

“I have a lot more questions than I do answers,” Johnson said. “The facts are preliminary at this time.” 

Nieves’ sister, Angelica Nieves, told WGN her brother had repeatedly called 911 about the officer. She claimed the dispute started with the officer harassing her brother’s girlfriend.

“It was not justified. It wasn’t justified. It was not,” Angel Nieves, the victim’s father, told the news station.

Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority, which handles misconduct allegations, is conducting a separate investigation.

A vigil will be held for Nieves Saturday. On Twitter, his death has been held up as an example of a broken policing system that leads to excessive violence and disproportionately affects people of color. 

Chicago police have come under scrutiny in several recent high-profile police shootings.

Johnson took over as police superintendent last year after Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired his predecessor amid outrage over the city’s handling of the 2014 police killing of Laquan McDonald, 17. An officer shot the teen more than a dozen times as he walked away, but police dashcam footage that contradicted police claims that McDonald lunged at officers with a knife was kept secret for more than a year.

The backlash also led to the creation of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which will replace the Independent Police Review Authority this year as part of the city’s efforts to improve police oversight and accountability.