Darius Pinex, CPD And The Case Of The Missing Dashcam Video
UPDATE: Since WBEZ’s reporting, a spokeswoman for the Independent Police Review Authority says they have now obtained the video, more than five-and-a-half years after Chicago police shot and killed Darius Pinex.
When Chicago police officers Raoul Mosqueda and Gildardo Sierra pulled over Darius Pinex in January 2011, the dashcam in their CPD Chevy Tahoe was rolling.
The officers shot and killed Pinex during that traffic stop. But the video never made it to the Independent Police Review Authority, (IPRA) which investigates police shootings.
The video was used as evidence in a federal lawsuit against the city, which means that for five years, the police department and the city’s law department had the video, but never informed the investigator tasked with determining if the use of lethal force was justified.
An attorney for Pinex’s family says the video directly contradicts the officers’ version of the traffic stop that ended in Pinex’s death. Federal court records show the video was introduced as evidence in the trial.
While it doesn’t show the shooting itself, the footage—which was played in open court—does show the moments immediately before and after.
The Pinex case is one of the oldest IPRA investigations still open, and Mosqueda is still on the force.
IPRA officials said they had no knowledge the video existed until WBEZ brought it to their attention. Agency spokeswoman Mia Sissac says they have now obtained the dashcam footage, more than five-and-a-half years after Pinex’s death.
Sissac said the oversight happened long before Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley took over. She said they now have checks in place that would prevent something like this happening again.
IPRA Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley declined a request to be interviewed.
The traffic stop shown in the dashcam video at the center of the Pinex investigation occurred on Jan. 7, 2011. The officers say Pinex refused to stop, so they drove in front of his vehicle to force him to pull over.
After that, officers exited the car with their guns drawn and told Pinex and his passenger to come out with their hands up. But they say when Mosqueda was behind the car, Pinex reversed and hit the officer, and then drove forward toward officer Sierra.
They say that’s when Mosqueda opened fire, killing Pinex.
Pinex’s family filed a federal lawsuit in 2012.
They claim the officers pulled Pinex over for no reason and then fired into his car while his arms were raised above his head. They claim he never drove toward either officer.
The city won in a jury trial, but that verdict was thrown out when it was discovered that city attorneys had lied and hid key evidence. The two city attorneys resigned and Judge Edmond Chang ordered a new trial.
Earlier this month, the city and the Pinex family agreed to a settlement, avoiding trial.
That settlement is pending city council approval, but family attorney Steve Greenberg says the city will pay “in excess of $2 million.”
The Pinex case was included in last Friday’s massive records release by IPRA. The agency posted audio from 911 calls and radio dispatch, as well as initial reports from the officers.
Also included in the release were the audio clips hidden by city attorneys during the first trial. But Greenberg was surprised to see there was no video.
Greenberg says it shows the officers pulling Pinex over.
“They claim the car was fleeing from them and it was clear from the video that it was an absolutely routine traffic stop, [Pinex] pulls over within 10 or 12 seconds after their lights [going] on,” Greenberg said.
The officers say they had to pull their car in front of Pinex to force him to stop. But Greenberg said because the video shows Pinex immediately pulling over, he believes there is a more nefarious reason for the way the car is positioned.
“The reason they did that I think is that they didn’t want anything they did at this traffic stop to be captured on video,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg said the dashcam video was turned over to him in 2011, and he didn’t have any problem getting it.
The Chicago Police Department did not respond to a question about why the video would be withheld from the IPRA investigator.
A spokesman for the city’s law department said it falls on IPRA to inquire about evidence, not on city attorneys to alert the agency.
“There should be some system in place, which does not now exist, to make sure that the investigating authorities, the lawyers, everyone has everything that they’re supposed to have,” Greenberg said. “It doesn’t make sense for everyone to keep saying ‘it’s not my job, it’s not my responsibility, I don’t know ask the other guy.’”
Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him @pksmid