CHICAGO- Chicago Police Officers, Melvina Bogard and Bernard Butler, have not received legal charges filed against them for their involvement in the February 28, 2020 shooting of 33 year old Ariel Roman. According to the Excessive Force lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by Roman’s attorneys, the victim was unarmed when he was shot in the abdomen and buttocks by the officers.
According to court documents, at approximately 4:00 p.m. on February 28, 2020 at 521 N. State Street in Chicago, Roman was chased, tackled, pepper-sprayed, tasered, and shot by the defendant officers. Officers Bogard and Butler were assigned to the department’s Mass Transit Unit at the time the incident occurred.
The defendants encountered Roman when he crossed into their assigned train car while he experienced an alleged anxiety attack. According to the lawsuit filed, the officers questioned Roman when he crossed into the train car. Rules of conduct listed by the Chicago Transit Authority indicate that crossing between the cars of a train, or entering/ remaining upon any track unless there is an emergency is prohibited.
Penalties for any person who violates prohibitions is subject to any or all of the following penalties under Ordinance 016-110:
- A fine not less than $300
- Complete a period of supervision
- Pay restitution when the violation involves damage to property
- Community service for not less than 30 and not more than 120 hours
- Immediate removal from CTA property
- Suspended riding privileges
According to court documentation, the encounter between the officers and the victim ended when he exited the train car without indication that he would be placed under arrest or arrested at the scene. When the victim existed the train, defendants Bogard and Butler followed him onto the station platform and jumped on his back.
Defendant Butler ordered his partner, defendant Bogard, to taster Roman then ‘shoot’ him with pepper spray. Defendant Bogard complied, then was ordered by her partner to shoot Roman in the stomach. After the victim was shot, he turned to run up the escalator stairs and was shot again in the buttocks.
According to the lawsuit, the officers involved did not issue Roman a citation or request his identification before the shooting began. According to one of Roman’s lawyers, Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez, the abdominal wound Roman sustained resulted in his usage of a colostomy bag. A colostomy bag is an Ostomy Pouching System that is used as a prosthetic medical device that provides a means for the collection of waste from a surgically diverted biological system and the creation of a stoma.
Common uses for this device result from injuries to the abdomen or injuries to the colon. According to Rodriguez, the bullet shot at the victims buttocks landed near the sciatic nerve. When sciatic nerves are damaged, pain originates in the spine and follows a path down the back of the leg. Sciatica typically affects only one side of the body.
On April 28, 2020, The Civilian Office of Police Accountability issued a statement regarding the investigation into the conduct of the officers involved in the shooting. The COPA organization announced ,”As the civilian led administrative investigative agency of police misconduct, immediately following the incident, COPA recommended the two involved Chicago Police Department officers be relieved of police powers due to the serious nature of both officer’s actions and the Department concurred.”
A GoFundMe page was created by Roman’s sister, Wendy Roman, on March 1, 2020. The page states:
[Roman] has no health insurance and has already had more than one operation. He will not be able to return to work for a long time. As a family, we are rich in our values and love but are of meager financial resources. I am confident his spirit will fully recover from this incident, but I know it will be a struggle for his body to do the same. This GoFundMe page is difficult for me and my family to create, but we are at the mercy of our circumstances and have no other means to help my brother with his daily needs and expenses. We are very concerned that he will not be able to continue receiving medical care once he is discharged from emergency treatment.
Since the GoFundMe page was created, it has received $1,768 in donations. In an update post provided by Wendy on April 15, 2020, she stated:
I am so happy to report that Ariel has been recovering at home and staying as healthy as he can. We had to quarantine him and really make sure we social distanced from him but he is getting better every day. He is still in a lot of pain but his spirits are up. The donations have helped so much. From the bottom of our hearts we thank you greatly.
Ariel Roman has requested a trial by jury. Should the Defendants be found liable for the acts stated in the suit filed, Defendants Melvina Bogard, Bernard Butler, and The City of Chicago will be liable to pay the the victim any judgment obtained against said Defendants.