Chicago, IL — In February 2020, Ariel Roman, 33, while traveling on Chicago's public transit train, walked from one train car to another. That is all. For this action, two officers, assigned to Chicago's mass transit unit, chased him and tackled him on the train platform before one of them opened fire. The unarmed man was shot twice. The video was so outrageous even the mayor weighed in, calling it "extremely disturbing." The FBI was subsequently called in to investigate and multiple videos were released showing what amounts to little more than attempted murder by two of Chicago's finest.
A year and a half later, officer Melvina Bogard was finally been charged with aggravated battery with a firearm and official misconduct for shooting Roman. However, a little over a year after that and Bogard was quietly acquitted last month. A Cook County judge acquitted Officer Melvina Bogard on all the felony charges faced by Bogard.
The officer's attorney argued that Bogard fired in self-defense as the unarmed Roman walked away from him.
"We hope the city of Chicago realized that this was an officer that really overstepped her bounds under the Civil Rights Act and using excessive force by shooting Ariel Roman not once but twice," said attorney Gregory Kulis.
Bogard surrendered to police and appeared in bond court on Thursday where she was immediately released on a $10,000 bond.
"Judge Claps made the right ruling," defense attorney Tim Grace said. "No doubt about that."
Attorneys for Roman disagree, accurately pointing out that Roman was shot in the back as he walked away.
"We don't think it was the right decision," attorney Andrew Stroth said. "You have a video that shows our client was shot running away in the back twice. Unarmed. Shot in the back."
"Police officer chases him up the stairs without evidence of a weapon. Shoots him in the back," attorney Greg Kulis said.
Though Bogard was fired for shooting Roman, she never lost her police license and will likely be back on the force soon.
"She's gonna have to deal with the police board, but based on that ruling, we're confident she is fit for duty," Grace said.
TFTP reported on the original cellphone video that went viral and after that, as part of the investigation, COPA released more than a dozen more videos, including a clearer and longer cellphone video and surveillance footage, showing just how unnecessary Roman's shooting was.
Though COPA released multiple body cameras from officers who responded after the shooting, they conveniently omitted the body cameras from Bogard and Butler — most likely because it showed an attempted murder by one of their officers. One does not need these videos, however, to conclude that what happened was nothing short of attempted murder.
When the original video was released in February of 2020, it prompted outrage, as it should have. When the true reason for Roman's detainment came to light, there was even more backlash after it was discovered he had merely violated a minor city ordinance that says citizens cannot move to a different train car. He didn't even commit a criminal offense.
"I didn't see any reason to take him into custody, I didn't see any reason to detain him, there was never any conversation about issuing any type of citation," said Kulis. "You can see that Ariel is totally cooperative, is not aggressive, not abrasive."
As the below video shows, after being harassed and detained for walking to a different train, Roman simply tries to walk away. But the officers do not let him.
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According to his attorneys, Roman was having an anxiety attack, which is why he walked between trains and why he walked away from the two cops who detained him over a non-crime.
Despite posing no threat whatsoever to these officers, they continued to escalate force. The longer and clearer cellphone video shows why that force was unnecessary.
As the video shows, when the two officers tackled Roman, he never once attempted to harm them. Never once did Roman swing or punch at the officers or attempt to grab their guns. Instead, the man simply tried to get away from two armed people attempting to kidnap and cage him over a minor ordinance violation.
Video shows that after appearing to deploy tasers and pepper spray to subdue Roman, the man repeatedly says, "I didn't do nothing to you guys."
After the two officers were unable to subdue Roman, he stands up and tries to walk away.
Bogard then steps back and pulls her weapon and yells, “Sir, put your f***ing hands down!” as Butler yells, “Shoot him!”
At this point, Bogard opens fire on the unarmed and non-threatening man. When he tries to walk away again, boom, another shot rings out as onlookers watch in utter disbelief. In the cellphone footage, we see Roman walking up the escalator and then collapse when he is shot in the back.
Roman was shot once in the abdomen and once in the buttocks. Luckily he survived but not without grave injuries.
According to one of Roman's attorneys, Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez, Roman was left with debilitating injuries.
“Ariel was unarmed, and the officers knew he was unarmed. He also did not commit a crime; it was a city ordinance violation. The officers – who are trained – should have relaxed, and chilled, and taken time, called backup. The notion that an officer would shoot her service revolver twice is astonishing,” said Stroth.
“Based on his injuries, his [Roman’s] life will never be the same,” Stroth and Kulis said in a statement — and the officer who did this to him will walk free.
After he was shot, police charged Roman with resisting arrest and narcotics possession. However, once the video went viral, Interim Police Superintendent Charlie Beck asked prosecutors to drop the case and prosecutors obliged.
Below is the disturbing surveillance footage showing a Chicago cop shoot an unarmed man in the back while he walks away, and the cop who did it will likely be back on duty soon.