UPDATE — The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) released video footage Tuesday morning of the police shooting that killed Dexter Reed in March.

The TRiiBE is reviewing the video, and will not publish any graphic or violent images on our website.

At 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, Mayor Brandon Johnson will join COPA and the Cook County State’s Attorney Office for a press conference about the March 21 police shooting.

According to a COPA press release on Tuesday, Chicago police officers pulled Reed over “for purportedly not wearing a seatbelt.” Officers surrounded the vehicle with guns drawn and gave him verbal commands to lower his car windows.

“Mr. Reed did not comply with these commands,” COPA stated. Over a 41-second period of time, officers returned gunfire approximately 96 times, “including after Mr. Reed exited his vehicle and fell to the ground.”

You can read the COPA press release below.

You can view all related case materials including body worn camera footage here.

ORIGINAL STORY:

On any given summer day out west in the mid-2000s, Harold Washington College student Tiffany Clark could be found on the basketball court at Union Park with her baby brother Myles Clark and his two friends: Dexter Reed and his younger brother.

Clark, now 39, told The TRiiBE that she met Reed, whom they affectionately called “Dex,” in the Westhaven Park Apartments in the Near West Side neighborhood after their family moved there from the Cabrini-Green housing projects in 2008. Reed was closer in age to her brother, and the boys spent time together playing basketball and NBA 2K. Clark said that Reed also visited the Clark family during the holidays. 

“He was always very respectful to my mother and us when he came over. We just knew him as a great person because he always respected us,” she said.

In March, Clark’s mother sent her a news article. In it, she learned Reed, 26, had been shot and killed on the West Side by five tactical plain-clothed Chicago police officers from the 11th District (Harrison). She couldn’t believe the news.

“When I heard about this, I was, like, oh my God,” Clark said. “I just want justice for him. Police said he had a gun, but I need to see the video. There’s so much going on in Chicago with the police and shootings. So many young guys are getting killed.”

On March 21, during a traffic stop at 6:00 p.m. in the 3800 block of West Ferdinand, Chicago police approached Reed’s car while giving him verbal commands, according to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA). At some point, there was an exchange of gunfire between Reed and the officers.  One of the officers was struck in the wrist and transported to the hospital. 

Reed was shot multiple times and was later pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital at 6:32 p.m. A gun was recovered at the scene. On March 22, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that ShotSpotter detected more than 50 rounds of gunfire. 

The fatal shooting took place three miles from the new Chicago Police Department (CPD) cop academy, which opened in 2023. On March 29, Reed’s family sent a letter to Mayor Brandon Johnson and Chicago Police Department Superintendent Larry Snelling asking for answers and urging them to share the evidence leading up to Reed’s death:

“Dear Mayor Brandon Johnson and Chief Larry Snelling,

As you know, on Thursday March 21st, Dexter Reed was pulled over and shot and killed by five tactical officers working for the Chicago Police Department on the West Side of Chicago. Based on the limited information shared publicly, we still don’t know how and why Dexter was shot by these plain clothed police officers. What we do know, leaves us very troubled.”

You can view the full content of the letter here.

Reed’s family will be thrust into the spotlight this week. On April 8, at 3:00 p.m., the family and their attorney, Andrew M. Stroth went to COPA headquarters to view the police body-worn camera video that captured the shooting. COPA spokesperson Jennifer Rottner confirmed in an email to The TRiiBE that the footage will be released to the public on Tuesday, April 9. Reed’s family is expected to host a press conference at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday following its release, Stroth confirmed to The TRiiBE. Organizers are planning to host a demonstration outside of the 11th District Police station on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m.

According to the family’s attorney, Reed loved spending time with his family. He played basketball at Westinghouse High School, leading the team to a regional championship in 2016. He played basketball at Morton Jr. College and he aspired to be a sportscaster. 

For Clark, the news of Reed’s death brought up memories of other young Black men she knew and grew up with, like 28-year-old Dionysus English; many of them killed before the age of 30. She played basketball, too, and looked after her younger brother and his friends.

“This is the first time I heard of somebody that I know getting killed by police. The other people that I knew were always killed by others in the community,” Clark said. “It’s just so much violence, I just get so fed up going to funerals.” 

As Reed’s family navigates the aftermath of the police shooting that killed him, they’ll need financial and legal support as they seek out justice, similar to the families of other Black and brown Chicagoans killed in police shootings.  

In Chicago, a network of community organizations has filled that support gap, and will do so again in the wake of Reed’s death. Youth organizing group GoodKids MadCity (GKMC) will be among those to help.

“With this situation with Dexter and his family, it’s sad to see a new family get drawn into the same horrific cycle. They have to watch their loved one get executed, and then that gets released to the public as a spectacle,” GKMC co-founder Kofi Ademola said. “Then, it’s shared on social media. So it’s just retraumatization over and over again, and what systems are in place to protect them?”

Organizations like GKMC and the Chicago Torture Justice Center have provided wraparound supports — including therapy, financial assistance, media training, legal assistance, hosting events, boosting online funding campaigns and even sitting with loved ones — as families view video footage of fatal shootings, according to Ademola.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to center the family’s needs and desires, he added. They follow their lead. Reed’s sister, Porscha Banks, is organizing a GoFundMe for funeral expenses and attorney’s fees. Reed’s funeral services were held on April 4 and April 5 on the West Side at Philadelphia MB Church and Zoe Life Ministries. 

“We were very intentional about building space, where we centered the families, so if they wanted to speak out, push their narrative, or tell their stories about their loved ones, we made sure they had a platform to do it,” Ademola said. “We made sure we gathered resources for them. Whatever the case may be we wanted to make sure that their needs are getting met.”

Police District council member Arewa Winters (15th District) knows the pain Reed’s family is experiencing all too well. On April 11, 2016, her 16-year-old nephew Pierre Loury was shot and killed by Chicago police officer Sean Hitz after a foot chase in North Lawndale. Winters helped connect Reed’s family to Stroth, who was also her family’s lawyer, for their lawsuit against the city. The Chicago City Council voted to approve a $1.2 million settlement in 2021. 

“I’m involving myself as an impacted family member that is going to support another impacted family,” she said. 

After Loury’s death, Winters recalls receiving support from Ademola, Black Lives Matter Chicago, Justice for Families, the Women’s All Points Bulletin, the Let Us Breathe Collective, BYP 100 and the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR). 

“We were blessed and fortunate to have so many organizations just kind of lean into us and support us. We’re still in communication and working with them,” she said. 

However, Winters wants additional support at the government level for families of victims of police violence.  

What happened to Reed also concerns Winters, who was elected to her Police District Council (PDC) seat in 2023. PDC members are elected to one four year term, and their responsibilities include building connections between police and communities, developing community policing initiatives, and more. Reed’s death further erodes the distrust Black communities have of law enforcement. 

“As a district councilor, we try to do this work to build relationships with the department to establish trust and really shape and form how they should show up and treat people in our communities,” Winters said. “It’s, like, and then when this happens, it just undermines all the work that you are trying to do.”

According to a joint report from Impact for Equity and the Free2Move Coaltion (F2M), the 11th District experiences some of the most police traffic stops in Chicago. Map by Impact for Equity and F2M Coaltion.

On average, Chicago police officers make over 1,000 traffic stops city-wide daily, according to a 2023 joint report from Impact for Equity and F2M. The 11th District, where Reed was killed, has the highest number and percentage of traffic stops — nearly 10.5 percent of all traffic stops across the city took place in the district, which is a total of 56,301 stops. 

Black people account for 51 percent of those that are pulled over citywide, yet they only represent about 30 percent of the city’s total population, and only a small percentage of 2023 traffic stops resulted in citation, arrest, and contraband recovery.

“The issue here is unconstitutional policing on the West and South sides of Chicago. So yes, we appreciate COPA’s and the city’s commitment to releasing the evidence,” Stroth told The TRiiBE. “But the real issue is not the release of the evidence. The real issue is that it is a continued pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing in communities of color. That’s the issue.”

CPD has been under a federal consent decree since 2017. The DOJ report was conducted following the 2014 police murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. CPD has only complied with five percent of the requirements, according to a WTTW news report

Since McDonald’s murder, COPA was formed in 2016, as was the Empowering Communities for Police Safety and Accountability Ordinance, which led to the creation of two new governmental bodies dedicated to police oversight: the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA) and Police District Councils (PDCs). The latter was a win for organizers who’d been calling for civilian oversight of the police since the Black Panther Party’s Illinois chapter Chairman Fred Hampton’s assassination in 1969. 

“The family doesn’t want this to happen to yet another person in our communities and they want the city of Chicago to comply with the federal consent decree. Dexter Reed should be alive today and he’s not because of the actions and the inactions of the Chicago Police Department as it relates to the consent decree,” Stroth said.   

is a multimedia reporter for The TRiiBE.