Two former Chicago police officers were acquitted Thursday of felony charges after opening fire and injuring an unarmed man in 2022.
The officers, Sgt. Christopher Liakopoulos and Officer Ruben Reynoso, were facing charges of aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm and official misconduct, which are felonies punishable by up to 30 years in prison, in the July 2022 shooting of Miguel Medina, CNN previously reported.
After a bench trial in Cook County, Judge Lawrence Flood ruled to acquit both Liakopoulos and Reynoso in the case, according to Mary Wisniewski, a spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Judge of Circuit Court in the county.
Prosecutors said Medina was unarmed when he was shot and injured. He was hospitalized after the incident. His attorney, Gregory Kulis, told CNN they were “disappointed” by the judge’s ruling but weren’t surprised.
“This was a police-involved shooting of an unarmed man. Clearly on video, clearly had his hands up. There was no weapon involved. He had no weapon. He did not commit any crime towards the officers,” Kulis said. “They shot him basically in cold blood.”
He added the “proof of the pudding” is officers “never even checked him for weapons, so they obviously did not believe he had a weapon because they never even checked him.”
During the investigation, the Cook County State’s Attorney Office looked at surveillance video “and, based on that review of all of the evidence including that video, it is our position based on the facts, the evidence, and the law, that the officers involved in this incident did not have provocation or justification to shoot the unarmed victim during this incident,” Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said when charging the officers.
Statements the two officers made to investigators were “directly contradicted” by the videotape evidence. According to the state’s attorney, the video shows the officers firing their weapons before taking return fire.
Prosecutors have said Medina and a juvenile, who had a firearm in a satchel, were walking toward an unmarked police vehicle on July 22, 2022.
As they approached the officers’ vehicle, the juvenile held onto the firearm. Medina had a cell phone and a wine bottle in one hand and the other was empty. At some point, the juvenile turned around and ran away while Medina continued to walk to the car, Assistant State’s Attorney Alyssa Janicki previously said.
Janicki said Medina waved at the officers with his empty hand and displayed the cell phone and wine bottle in his other hand. That’s when both officers fired “multiple shots” in Medina’s direction from inside their vehicle, striking him in the back and the leg, Janicki said. Medina fell to the ground.
The juvenile continued running across the street and then fired at the officers who responded by discharging their weapons, Janicki said.
CNN has reached out to attorneys for Liakopoulos and Reynoso, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, and Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara but has not yet heard back.
Liakopoulos and Reynoso were relieved of their police powers after the incident, CNN previously reported.