Officer claims self-defense in Red Line shooting, but wounded man’s attorneys say video shows otherwise

A Chicago police officer facing felony charges for shooting and wounding a man while on-duty at the CTA Red Line’s Grand station fired in self-defense when the man resisted arrest, the officer’s lawyer argued Thursday.

But Ariel Roman’s attorneys said claims that Officer Melvina Bogard was trying to protect herself when she shot Roman on Feb. 28, 2020 “completely contradicts the clear video evidence.”

The unarmed Roman was shot in the hip and buttocks, according to his attorneys Andrew M. Stroth and Greg Kulis, who filed a federal lawsuit against the city, Bogard and her partner, Officer Bernard Butler.

“Based on his injuries, his [Roman’s] life will never be the same,” Stroth and Kulis said in a statement Thursday.

Butler, who was recorded by a bystander yelling “shoot him” before Bogard opened fire, has not been charged.

A spokeswoman for State’s Attorney Kim Foxx would not comment on whether the office’s Law Enforcement Accountability Division was also reviewing the case for possible charges against Butler.

“It was a brawl,” Bogard’s attorney Tim Grace told Judge Susana Ortiz Thursday of the “eight minute struggle” to arrest Roman, 34. Roman “had enough cocaine in his system to tranquilize … a horse” and refused to follow the officers’ directions, Grace said. At one point, Roman “bent” the officers’ handcuffs and tried to push the officers to the edge of the platform, Grace added.

Melvina Bogard

Melvina Bogard
Cook County sheriff’s office

Ortiz, who ordered Bogard released on her own recognizance for aggravated battery with a firearm and official misconduct, said the officer had 24 hours to turn over any Firearm Owners Identification card, or other permits to carry a weapon.

But Grace said Bogard, 32, had already turned in her department-issued firearm to investigators after the shooting and didn’t own any others.

Assistant State’s Attorney Ken Goff said both charges against Bogard stemmed from the first shot she fired shortly after 4 p.m. that day.

Bogard and Butler were detailed to a unit to prevent crime on the CTA when they spotted Roman moving between cars while the train was running, Goff said.

Roman told the officers he suffers from anxiety and was trying to get away from a commuter who was bothering him, Goff said.

When the train stopped at the Grand station, the officers told Roman to get off and repeatedly asked for his ID, Goff said. A struggle followed and when Roman wouldn’t follow the officers’ commands, Bogard repeatedly told Roman to “stop resisting” when she tried to handcuff him, Goff said.

Both officers deployed their stun guns early in the encounter, and Bogard also used her pepper spray, which had an effect on Butler and Roman, Goff said.

The officers’ radio calls for assistance wouldn’t transmit in the underground tunnel, Goff also said.

Grace seized on that detail, pointing out that the officers were not provided with radios capable of communicating Bogard’s requests for backup.

Chicago Police Officer Melvina Bogard, right gray hoodie, walks outside of the Cook County Jail exit at 27th and California, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021.

Chicago Police Officer Melvina Bogard (right, gray hoodie) walks outside of the Cook County Jail exit at 27th and California, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Roman was eventually able to stand up before he was held by Butler, who commanded Bogard to “shoot him,” Goff said. Bogard then allegedly placed her handcuffs in her duty belt and pulled her gun on Roman as she stepped back.

Butler had “disengaged” from Roman, who began wiping his eyes and had stepped forward toward Bogard when she fired the first shot into his chest, Goff said. Roman then ran up an escalator toward the station’s main concourse when Bogard allegedly fired the second shot, striking him in the buttocks.

Roman was taken into custody after the shooting and charged with resisting arrest and drug violations. Those charges were later dropped.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability submitted findings from its investigation to Supt. David Brown in October. The Chicago Police Department later moved to fire both officers.

Federal authorities also have opened a criminal investigation into the high-profile police shooting.

“The case is currently pending before the Chicago Police Board,” police spokesman Tom Ahern said in a statement Thursday. “The officer [Bogard] was relieved of police powers in March 2020.”

Bogard is active in her church and comes from a family of cops, including her mother, who recently retired from the CPD after 25 years, Grace said.

Bogard had never been disciplined as an officer, Grace stressed. She and Butler, who were hired in 2017, were fairly new to the department at the time of the shooting.

Bogard is expected back in court on Aug. 18.

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