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A Chicago police body-worn camera shows damage to a hatchback on Dec. 11, 2020, after Officer Kevin Bunge shot a teenager in the driver’s seat.

A Chicago Police trainer gets probation for shooting an unarmed teen driver

A Chicago Police trainer who faced 12 felony counts for his unprovoked shooting of an unarmed teenager will not be sent to prison after a plea agreement with Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office.

Officer Kevin Bunge, 40, pleaded guilty Sept. 14 to a single count of aggravated discharge of a firearm for the off-duty 2020 shooting on the North Side. Prosecutors dropped the other counts — including attempted murder and aggravated battery, whose minimum sentences carried prison terms.

Judge Charles P. Burns ordered 30 months of probation, five days in a sheriff’s work program, a $549 fine and mental health treatment.

Chicago Police Officer Kevin Bunge was arrested on March 17, 2021, for the shooting.

Chicago Police Officer Kevin Bunge was arrested on March 17, 2021, for the shooting.

Bunge’s attorney, Timothy Grace, hailed the plea deal.

“He received no special treatment or benefit because he was a law enforcement officer,” Grace wrote to WBEZ, saying the prosecutors recognized that Bunge “made a mistake in that he believed that the victims were about to engage in a vehicular carjacking.”

A statement from Foxx’s office said the victims, Jomner Orozco Carreto and Carlos Ramírez, “agreed with the resolution of this case.”

“We communicated directly with the victims and their civil attorneys to ensure that they were aware of the possible resolution,” another statement from Foxx’s office said, adding that the felony conviction will lead to Bunge’s Illinois decertification as a cop and to the revocation of his state firearm owner’s identification card.

But Bunge’s sentence appears unusually light for an offense initially categorized by prosecutors as “aggravated battery with a firearm,” according to a WBEZ analysis of Cook County criminal case data posted online by Foxx’s office. Over the last five years, of the 404 defendants who have pleaded guilty in cases categorized that way, more than 92% have been sentenced to prison.

Orozco Carreto and Ramírez, both 19 years old during the shooting, wanted to avoid the “re-traumatizing experience” of testifying at trial, according to their attorney, Brad Thomson. The lack of victim testimony would have been a blow to the prosecution. Still, Thomson said, the victims wanted a sentence tougher than the probation.

“The judge in this case showed this officer a lot of leniency, and that’s leniency that other residents of this city who are charged with crimes do not see,” Thomson said. “And those residents are typically Black people and people of color.”

Orozco Carreto, the teen hit by one of Bunge’s shots, wrote a statement presented to the judge at the sentencing.

“You need to use your power to make Officer Bunge understand that he has to pay for the crime he committed against us,” the victim wrote. “You need to let him and the public know that police officers are not above the law, that they must answer for the crimes they commit.”

Two shots

The evening of Dec. 11, 2020, Bunge returned from teaching at the police academy and parked outside his home on West Irving Park Road.

As cold rain sprinkled down, Orozco Carreto and Ramírez pulled up in a red hatchback and parked behind Bunge’s white SUV. They said later they had pulled over simply to find directions to a party.

Bunge, a former Marine diagnosed with PTSD, was in the SUV listening to an audiobook about the Battle of Fallujah, according to Grace, who said the officer had been the victim of a recent carjacking.

“He noticed the vehicle behind him, and the thoughts that were going through his mind were, ‘Why is the victim parked so close to me? What are they doing?’ ” Grace said at the officer’s bond hearing.

Bunge, who had been a CPD officer for seven years, said he heard gunfire and saw someone getting into the hatchback and pointing a gun at him, according to a prosecutor at the bond hearing.

Surveillance videos from multiple angles — posted online by a city agency investigating the shooting — show nothing like that. The victims seem to be in their car throughout the incident.

Bunge got out of his SUV and stepped toward the hatchback with his pistol drawn, the footage shows. He shot once, striking Orozco Carreto in the right hand.

Orozco Carreto backed the hatchback away and Bunge shot again, a video shows. That round hit a fender of the hatchback, according to police.

Orozco Carreto and Ramírez quickly called 911. They say the officers who responded arrested them. But police did not find any gun in their car or any evidence they had fired shots.

More than three months later, Bunge was arrested and charged with aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm. The case against the officer expanded in April 2021, when a grand jury indicted him on the 12 counts, including the attempted murder and aggravated battery charges, four counts of aggravated discharge of a weapon, and six counts of official misconduct.

Orozco Carreto and Ramírez, meantime, sued the city and Bunge. This past February, the City Council approved a $1.2 million settlement.

Foxx’s office, asked whether Bunge’s sentence was fair, sent a statement that said “the court accepted the defendant’s plea after a presentation of facts, the defendant’s criminal history and other aggravating and mitigating factors.”

Chip Mitchell reports about policing, public safety and public health. Reporter Patrick Smith contributed. Follow them at @ChipMitchell1 and @pksmid.

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