Sister of man shot to death by police in Near South Side park sues officers
The scene at 1800 S. Calumet, where a Chicago police officer was shot and wounded and a man killed July 21, 2016. (Brian Jackson / Chicago Tribune)
A sister of a man shot to death by Chicago police officers last year in a Prairie District park challenged officers’ version of events, saying an officer who was wounded in what police described as an exchange of gunfire actually shot himself.
Arlena Love filed a wrongful death suit Monday against the city of Chicago and three police officers, saying they overreacted and used excessive force when they shot and killed her brother, Derek Love, 50, on July 21, 2016, in Battle of Fort Dearborn Park. Arlena Love is administrator of her brother’s estate.
Around 8 p.m. that evening, bicycle officers responded to a report of a person “acting erratically” at the park, 1801 S. Calumet Ave. Soon after, they found Derek Love, who was on his cellphone at the time.
The police narrative and the account given in the lawsuit differ on what happened next. The officers named in the suite could not immediately be reached for comment, and Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi declined to comment on pending litigation.
Police said in the day after the shooting that Love pulled a gun out of his backpack and began firing, hitting a 17-year veteran officer in the leg. The day of the shooting, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters the wounded officer was able to apply a tourniquet to his leg with the help of his partner, probably saving his life.
Days later, Johnson and dozens of others attended a vigil for the wounded police officer, which was lamented as the latest attack on law enforcement, following officers recently killed in Dallas, Baton Rouge, La., and Kansas City, Kan.
"These are difficult times we’re in right now," Johnson said at the time. "It’s a difficult time to be in law enforcement. We’re more than a team, we’re a family. It’s important to show support for one another as we go through these difficult times."
The lawsuit, however, suggests Love was unarmed and his drawstring Nike bag only contained a few cans of beer and his ID. He tried to walk away from officers but didn’t hit or point any weapon at them.
The wounded officer accidentally shot himself, it says.
Documents released by the Independent Police Review Authority, the agency charged with investigating police-involved shootings, indicate the officer reported a self-inflicted wound as a result of discharging his weapon. The officer was treated and released from the hospital the next day.
A Chicago police officer assigned to bike patrol was shot in the leg and a man was killed in what police said was an exchange of gunfire at a Near South Side park about 8 p.m. on July 21, 2016.
Police reports released by IPRA — none of which contain any narrative of the incident — indicate officers believed Love had fired at them, and that he used a 9 mm pistol, but do not indicate whether a handgun was found at the scene.
Love was shot numerous times in the back, chest, left wrist, stomach and left leg, according to one of the reports. He died less than an hour after being taken to the hospital.
Monday’s suit states officers used “unreasonable and dangerous force without justification,” resulting in Love’s death.
IPRA has not yet completed its investigation into the shooting.
The suit seeks more than $50,000 in damages.