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Two Chicago police officers charged in January beating of teen
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Two Chicago police officers charged in January beating of teen

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CHICAGO — Two Chicago police officers have been arrested for allegedly beating a teen boy they arrested earlier this year on the South Side, officials said.

Officers Jeffery Shafer and Victor Guebara were each charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct, both felonies, and are scheduled to appear for a bond hearing later Wednesday in the Leighton Criminal Court building, according to court records and Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

The alleged victim in the case was a 17-year-old boy who Shafer and Guebara were pursuing on Jan. 10 in the Woodlawn community after, authorities said, the teen stole a car, used it to strike a police vehicle and pointed a gun at cops. Both were in custody early Wednesday, sources said.

As first reported by the Chicago Tribune in June, the confrontation was initially the subject of a police disciplinary investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and among the pieces of evidence for review was surveillance video that captured the alleged beating.

Neither Chicago police nor the Cook County state’s attorney’s office could immediately provide details about the allegations against Shafer and Guebara, who were assigned to the Grand Crossing patrol district at the time of the encounter. But according to COPA records obtained by the Tribune through an open-records request, one of the two officers was accused of hitting the 17-year-old in the head or face, and pushed his head into a metal fence and into a sidewalk.

The other officer accused of excessive force was alleged to have punched the teen in his head or face “without justification,” the records show.

Chicago police records show that on Jan. 20, Shafer and Guebara were relieved of their police powers, meaning they were placed on paid desk duty and prohibited from carrying a badge and gun for work purposes.

Two other officers also faced disciplinary allegations in the incident, including one accused of failing to report the “unjustified use of force,” the COPA records state. One of those officers was accused of failing to intervene during the encounter and report the incident, the records show. The other was accused of failing to activate his body-worn camera.

All four officers allegedly failed to properly activate their cameras, and the two accused of excessive force are also alleged to have conducted an improper vehicle pursuit of the teen, the COPA records show.

According to a police report, officers patrolling in the area of Marquette Road and Cottage Grove learned about a stolen 2012 Chevrolet vehicle a little before noon on Jan. 10. Officers tracked down the vehicle at 65th and Drexel Avenue, meeting it with their car “front end to front end,” the report states.

The Chevrolet then rode around the officers’ squad car, heading east toward Kenwood Avenue, the report states. The car rode on a sidewalk while the squad car headed north on Kenwood on the street.

Police said the Chevrolet made a left turn from the sidewalk and struck the passenger side of the squad car.

The 17-year-old was arrested in the incident on several charges in Cook County Juvenile Court. The Tribune, which has no information yet on the status of that case as of Wednesday morning, is not naming the teen because he is a minor.

The teen was charged in the incident with stealing the Chevrolet, according to juvenile court records, and he’s charged with aggravated battery on allegations that he used a vehicle to strike the two officers who are accused of beating him.

The teen was also charged with aggravated assault and illegally possessing a handgun, records show. It was unclear exactly when the gun allegedly was pointed at the officers.

The teen also was charged with resisting a peace officer and fleeing or attempting to elude an officer, the records show.

On June 7, 2020, the teen was also arrested for carrying an illegal gun, according to court documents.

Sources familiar with the COPA investigation said video footage of some or all of the alleged beating was captured on a nearby surveillance camera, a city-operated device that’s often affixed to a light pole.

But city agencies, including COPA and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, have refused to release the video, citing a provision in the state’s Juvenile Court Act that prohibits the release of such material through open records requests if an alleged victim depicted in video footage is under 18.

COPA, however, has said the 17-year-old’s family would be able to obtain the video under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s new executive order that went into effect in March, allowing alleged victims of police abuse to review video evidence in their cases. But as of Wednesday morning, it was not clear if that has happened.

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