On Wednesday, the family of Dexter Reed and their attorneys filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Chicago and Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers Alexandra Giampapa, Thomas Spanos, Victor Pacheco, Gregory Saint Louis and Aubrey Webb, who fatally shot Reed during a traffic stop in West Side neighborhood Humboldt Park. 

The TRiiBE obtained a copy of the lawsuit from the family’s attorney, Andrew M. Stroth, who filed the complaint with Action Injury Law Group, Steven A. Hart of Mclaughlin & Eldridge and Sheila Bedi of the Community Justice and Civil Rights Clinic at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in federal court. Reed’s mother, Nicole Banks, is listed as the plaintiff. 

According to the lawsuit, the officers involved in Reed’s death violated his civil rights and failed to follow the federally mandated consent decree when they “targeted him during a predatory, violent and unlawful traffic stop that ended with Defendant Officers shooting [at] Dexter 96 times in 41 seconds,” according to the lawsuit. 

“How many young Black men need to die before the city of Chicago will comply with the consent decree to protect individuals in our communities?” Stroth asked. “Chicago has been under the consent decree for several years. There’s been millions of taxpayer dollars to advance the consent decree. And as of today, the city of Chicago is only six percent compliant with the consent decree. This family is filing this lawsuit to protect other Black and Brown families on the South and West sides of Chicago.” 

The lawsuit filed multiple counts against the officers and the city, including excessive force, wrongful death, battery, failure to intervene, denial of medical care, unconstitutional traffic stop, and failure to adequately train and discipline officers. These counts implicate the city in a broader practice of unconstitutional policing, such as excessive force and unlawful search and seizure, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. You can view the lawsuit here

Dexter Reed (center) with his mother, Nicole Banks (left), and his older sister Porscha Banks (right). Photo provided.

The lawsuit also called for an end to tactical units and claimed that the city’s failure to implement the consent decree reinforces systemic harm on Chicago’s Black and brown residents. “Dexter Reed is not alive today because of the unlawful and unwarranted actions of these officers in this tactical unit and the inactions of a city and police department not committed to the federal consent decree,” Stroth told The TRiiBE. 

Reed’s family and attorneys, Stroth, Hart, and Bedi are expected to host a press conference today at 10:00 a.m. outside the 11th District Police station.  

The lawsuit comes more than a month after Reed’s death and two weeks after the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s (COPA) public release of body-camera footage. 

On March 21, just at 6:00 p.m., Reed, 26, was riding in his car in the 3800 block of West Ferdinand when an unmarked white CPD SUV, driven by Webb, side-swiped it. Giampapa, Spanos, Pacheco and Saint Louis—11th District (Harrison) tactical team members—were also riding in the SUV. According to the complaint, officers didn’t use sirens or lights, were plainclothed, and didn’t announce that they were police officers when they side-swiped it. 

During the traffic stop, one of the officers was shot in the wrist and transported to the hospital. Police say that Reed shot at them. A gun was recovered at the scene, according to COPA. A ballistics report is underway. The lawsuit draws into question Reed’s possession of a gun at the time that he was fatally shot, noting that Officer Giampapa said, “I don’t know where the gun is.”

Reed, according to the suit, lived with physical and mental disabilities. He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which limited his ability to work, communicate, process and remember information, according to the complaint.

The officers who fatally shot Reed have been investigated a combined 41 times since 2019, and many of those complaints stem from traffic stops, according to the lawsuit. Four of the officers were put on administrative leave for 30 days.

While police reported that they stopped Reed for a seat belt violation, the validity of the traffic stop has been called into question by COPA Chief Andrea Kersten, who, in a letter to CPD Supt. Larry Snelling wrote, “COPA is uncertain how the officers could have seen this seat belt violation given their location relative to (Reed’s) vehicle and the dark tints on (his) vehicle windows.” 

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 Free 1 Move Coalition (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. The lawsuit also cites Impact for Equity and F2M’s joint report. 

Black people account for 51 percent of those who are pulled over by police citywide. Yet, they only represent approximately 30 percent of the city’s total population, and only a small percentage of 2023 traffic stops resulted in citation, arrest, and contraband recovery, according to Impact for Equity and F2M’s 2023 joint report. 

Since Reed’s death, his attorneys and a coalition of community-based organizations have called for disbanding tactical units and ending pretextual traffic stops. There have also been calls from groups like the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Chicago Torture Justice Center and GoodKids MadCity to fire and charge the officers involved with Reed’s death and for Snelling to be fired. 

“So whether it’s the police task force report or the Department of Justice 2017 investigation to the current consent decree, these tactical units are not an effective way to police. If you look at the same group of officers involved in the Dexter Reed case, they have been investigated 41 times for wrongdoing since 2019,” Stroth said. 

“So clearly, there’s a pattern with this current tactical unit. And clearly, there’s a history and pattern. Let’s talk about Jon Burge, Reynaldo Guevara and Ronald Watts. Time and time again, officers are abusing Black people on the South and West sides of Chicago. What happened to Dexter Reed is completely predictable based on the actions of these tactical units in Chicago,” he continued. 

The lawsuit also claims that “11th District CPD Supervisors repeatedly demanded that Tact Team Members report, focus on, and increase pretextual traffic stops.” According to the suit, the police interaction with Dexter Reed was a common practice of CPD’s Mass Traffic Stop Program in an attempt “to achieve the quotas imposed upon them by District 11 Supervisors.”

Both Mayor Brandon Johnson and Snelling, prior to Reed’s death, committed to bringing the police department into compliance with the consent decree. However, the “city has fully complied with just six percent of the consent decree,” according to a WTTW news report. Going forward, that means that both Johnson and Snelling will have to address the multiple violations in the case of Dexter Reed, which will have a broader impact on the safety and civil rights of all Chicagoans.  

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

is a multimedia reporter for The TRiiBE.