Chicago hospital shooting footage won't be released, police watchdog group says

Alyssa Rege - Print  | 

Chicago's policy watchdog agency said Jan. 15 it will not release video footage it obtained of the shooting at Chicago-based Mercy Hospital & Medical Center that killed three people, including a physician and a pharmacy resident, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Four things to know:

1. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability said in a statement that it would not release the footage, citing an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act that allows government agencies not to publicize information if doing so may lead to privacy issues. The city requires police to release audio and video recordings and police reports related to shootings, deaths in police custody or other major issues of force by officers within 60 days. Law enforcement agencies may seek an additional 30-day delay if necessary.

"While there has typically been video releases of officer-involved shootings per the city's video transparency policy, in this case we have not reviewed any video that captures a Chicago police officer firing a weapon that led to the death of a shooter," A COPA spokesman said in a statement obtained by the Chicago Tribune. "If we had that video, we would have that to release."

2. Last November, gunman Juan Lopez confronted his ex-fiance, Tamara O'Neal, MD, in the hospital parking lot and fatally shot her. He proceeded inside the building and fatally shot a pharmacy resident and a Chicago police officer.

3. COPA found that the only gunfire from police during the incident came from SWAT officer Elvis Turcinovic, who fired five shots and struck Mr. Lopez in the abdomen. After he was wounded, Mr. Lopez fatally shot himself in the head, the report states. COPA is investigating the incident and whether Mr. Turcinovic followed proper procedures.

4. While COPA has declined to release video footage in the past, the spokesperson said the Mercy Hospital shooting marks the first time the organization cited the state's privacy exemption in the FIOA law as its reasoning, the report states.

To access the report, click here.

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