A video released this week showed the moment two Chicago police officers shot an unarmed 23-year-old man. Now the witness – who tried to help a wounded Miguel Medina while texting his family – is speaking frankly.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, the witness – who asked not to be identified except by his first name for fear of reprisals – said he saw some gunfire from his window and then fall off on the floor when he rushed outside.
He said that the city, on the ground and policemen standing near him, was screaming: “Please don’t kill me,” “Why did you shoot me?” “I didn’t do anything” and “I don’t want to die.”
“Almost the entire neighborhood heard his screams,” Shaun said. “So I immediately put on some pants, put on some shoes, and I took some gloves, gauze and wraps and duct tape and scissors from my trauma kit.”
He told the police he could help – with skills he learned working for a defense contractor – and the police didn’t stop him from approaching Medina. Sean said he can be seen running into town and offering assistance in surveillance footage released Tuesday.
He said that while he was inhaling the bullet wound, Medina was texting his mother and partner.
“The most heartbreaking thing is that the man is constantly saying ‘Why did you kill me?’” “Don’t let me die.” She sees the wine bottle broken on the floor next to him and he pulls out his phone and starts texting his mom and girlfriend goodbye.
Last Friday, Chicago Police Sgt. Christopher Liacopoulos and Officer Robin Reynuso were charged in connection with the shooting: three counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm, and official misconduct.
Cook County District Attorney Kimberly Fox said the cops claimed they were shot first, but video evidence contradicts that claim. The video, released on Tuesday, appears to show police firing the first shots.
The two cops have been released from their police powers, according to a local CBS affiliate, and have been paid a $25,000 bond.
According to the prosecutor’s note, on July 22, Iacopolis and Renoso slowly backed their patrol car toward a group of young men huddled on the sidewalk in the early morning.
A city and a 17-year-old, who was wearing a bag that the prosecutor said contained a gun, drove to the car, but the teen carrying the bag started running away, according to prosecutors. Medina, who was defenseless and “had a cell phone and a bottle of wine in one hand, while his other hand was empty,” raised his arms and slowly approached the passenger side of the car, prosecutors said last week.
That’s when the two officers suddenly pointed their guns out of the passenger side window and fired into Town before aiming and shooting the runaway minor who shot the officers after they shot the 23-year-old, according to prosecutors.
In the surveillance video released to the public by independent police watchdog COPA on Tuesday, the minor was off camera after escaping, and the footage did not include any sound.
“COPA has additional video, not part of today’s release, that depicts an event firing a firearm in the direction of officers after officers unloaded their weapons as they fled the scene,” COPA said in a statement.
Lyakopoulos’ attorney, Tim Grace, declined to comment on witness Shaun’s statements. Brian Sexton, who represents Reynoso, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sean’s comments by the Daily Beast on Wednesday.
But the lawyers argued last Friday before Judge Maryam Ahmed that the officers fired their weapons in response to a gun aimed at them by the minor.
“There is a video of the event standing in…the middle of the street shooting at the police,” Lycopolis’ attorney, Tim Grace, said in a text message to The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “Transparency means we release all of the video, not just ½ of the incident.”
Shawn said that after paramedics arrived at the scene of the shooting and took care of the town, an investigator interviewed him and described what he saw: “The person who was shot was defenseless,” and how “all he had was a bottle of wine.”
He said the policeman responded to his account.
“The cop insisted we shoot them first,” Sean said. “And I remember telling the policeman that this didn’t make any sense.”
Gregory Collis, Miguel Medina’s attorney, said he could corroborate Sean’s statements that he said he heard the 23-year-old being shot. The city also filed a civil lawsuit against the police.
And the cops don’t even go [help Medina],” Collis told the Daily Beast, stressing that if the police believed someone had a gun, they would have gone to check.
After he saw the video released on Tuesday, Sean said he realized he might have come close to being shot.
“It didn’t even shock me with the video, I didn’t realize that the policemen were ready to draw on me,” he said, explaining that the video shows policemen “reaching their pouch” upon his arrival to help Medina.
Later, Sean told his interviewee that he did not trust the police due to his previous “horrific experiences”.
“The detective said frankly to me, I wish I could change your mind.” This is the opposite of what he did by 1,000,000%.”
He said Sean gave an interview to COPA.
COPA spokeswoman Jennifer Rottner declined to comment on whether Sean spoke with investigators due to the “open, active and ongoing investigation” of censorship.