Video released this week showed the moment two Chicago police officers shot a 23-year-old unarmed man . Now a witness—who tried to help a wounded Miguel Medina while he texted his family goodbye—is speaking out.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, the witness—who asked that he be identified only by his first name out of fear of retaliation—said he saw some of the shooting from his window and then the aftermath on the ground when he rushed outside.
He said Medina, on the ground with cops 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 could hear him screaming," Sean said. "So I immediately throw on some pants, throw on some shoes, grab some gloves, gauze and wraps and tape and scissors out of my trauma kit."
He told police he could render aid—with skills he had learned working for a defense contractor—and cops did not stop him from approaching Medina. Sean said that he can be seen running towards Medina and rendering aid on the surveillance footage released Tuesday.
He said that as he palpatated the gunshot wound, Medina was texting his mother and partner.
"The most heartbreaking thing was just the guy constantly saying 'Why’d you shoot me?' 'Don’t let me die.' You see the wine bottle broken on the ground next to him and he pulls out his phone and starts texting his mom and his girlfriend goodbye."
Last Friday, Chicago Police Sgt. Chistopher Liakopoulos and Officer Ruben Reynoso 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 State Attorney Kimberly Foxx said the cops claimed they were fired upon first, but video evidence contradicted that claim. The video released Tuesday appeared to show the cops firing the first shots.
Both policemen were relieved of their police powers, according to a local CBS affiliate, and posted $25,000 bail.
According to the prosecutors' court filing, on July 22, Liakopoulis and Reynoso slowly backed their patrol car towards a group of young people gathered on a sidewalk early in the morning.
Medina and a 17-year-old, who was wearing a satchel that the state attorney says contained a gun, walked toward the vehicle, but the teen with the satchel started to run away, according to prosecutors. Medina, who was unarmed and "held a cell phone and a wine bottle in his hand, while his other hand was empty," raised his arms and slowly approached the passenger side of the vehicle, according to prosecutors' filing last week.
That's when both officers suddenly pointed their guns out the passenger side window and shot Medina before aiming and firing on the fleeing minor—who fired back at officers after they shot the 23-year-old, according to prosecutors.
In the surveillance video released to the public by the city's independent cop watchdog organization COPA on Tuesday, the minor was off camera after running away, and the footage did not include sound.
"COPA is in possession of an additional video, not a part of today's release, that captures a juvenile discharging a firearm in the direction of the officers after officers have discharged their weapons and he is fleeing the scene," COPA said in a statement.
Liakopoulos' lawyer, Tim Grace, declined to comment on statements made by Sean, the witness. Brian Sexton, who represents Reynoso, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sean's statements by the Daily Beast on Wednesday.
But last Friday, the attorneys argued before Judge Maryam Ahmad that the officers fired their weapons in response to a gun being pointed at them by the minor.
"There is a video of the juvenile standing in the … middle of the street firing at the police," Liakopoulis' attorney Tim Grace said by text message to The Daily Beast on Tuesday. "Transparency means we release all the video, not just ½ the incident."
Sean said that after paramedics arrived on the shooting scene and took over care of Medina, he was interviewed by a detective and described what he had seen: that "the person who had been shot was unarmed," and how "all he had was a wine bottle."
He said the cop pushed back at his account.
"The cop insisted they were fired upon first," Sean said. "And I remember telling the cop that doesn't make any sense."
Gregory Kulis, a lawyer for Miguel Medina, said that he could corroborate statements Sean said he heard screamed by the shot 23-year-old. Medina has also filed a civil suit against the cops.
"And the police officers do not even go over to [help Medina]," Kulis told The Daily Beast, stressing that if police "think someone has a gun" that they would have gone to check
After he watched the video released on Tuesday, Sean said he realized he may have come close to being shot.
"It didn't hit me until the video, I didn't realize the cops were ready to draw on me," he said, explaining that the video shows cops "reaching towards their holster" when he arrives to help Medina.
Later, Sean would tell the detective who interviewed him that he doesn't trust police because of prior "horrible experiences" he's had.
"The detective explicitly told me, 'I hope I changed your mind.' And that is 1,000,000% the opposite of what he did."
Sean was also interviewed by COPA, he said.
COPA spokesperson Jennifer Rottner declined to comment on whether Sean had spoken with investigators due to the watchdog's "open and active and ongoing investigation."
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