Chicago Police Officer Who Teaches Use Of Force Charged In Off-Duty Shooting

screenshot of video showing Kevin Bunge shooting
Screenshot from a surveillance video on West Irving Park Road that recorded the shooting by off-duty Chicago officer Kevin Bunge on Dec. 11, 2020. Bunge is facing criminal charges from the shooting. The video was provided by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which is investigating the incident. Courtesy of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability
screenshot of video showing Kevin Bunge shooting
Screenshot from a surveillance video on West Irving Park Road that recorded the shooting by off-duty Chicago officer Kevin Bunge on Dec. 11, 2020. Bunge is facing criminal charges from the shooting. The video was provided by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which is investigating the incident. Courtesy of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability

Chicago Police Officer Who Teaches Use Of Force Charged In Off-Duty Shooting

A Chicago police officer is being ordered to pay a $1,000 bond to get out of jail while he awaits trial on criminal charges related to a December off-duty shooting that he committed on his way home from teaching at the police academy.

Officer Kevin Bunge is charged with aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm for allegedly shooting at two unarmed Latino men who were sitting in a parked car on the city’s North Side on Dec. 11, 2020. The two men fled the scene and then called 911 to report the shooting.

Bunge, an eight-year-veteran of the Chicago Police Department, appeared in bond court Wednesday. His attorney said Bunge teaches use of force at the police training facility. He is at least the second Chicago officer this year to face charges for an off-duty shooting, in a town where criminal charges against cops used to be exceedingly rare.

Prosecutor Mary McDonnell said that on the night of the shooting, Bunge was sitting in his car outside of his home on West Irving Park Road shortly after finishing his shift as an instructor at the police academy, when two men in a red car pulled up and parked behind him.

A few minutes later, Bunge got out of his car, approached the red car and fired two shots. One of the men, Jomner Orozco Carreto, was shot in the hand and the other man, Carlos Ramírez, was injured by shards of broken glass.

Bunge later told police that he heard shots, then saw a person getting into the car parked behind him and that the person pointed a gun at him, McDonnell said, prompting Bunge to get out of the car with his gun drawn. She said surveillance video contradicts Bunge’s story.

McDonnell said Orozco has already gone through one surgery, but still cannot open his injured hand and is expecting to need surgery again.

Bunge’s defense attorney Tim Grace said the officer, who is a former Marine, was sitting in his car after his shift at the training academy listening to a book-on-tape about the battle of Fallujah.

Grace said Bunge had been the victim of a carjacking within the last two years, and that the city’s recent “plague” of carjackings was on his mind when he saw the car pull up and park behind him.

“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.

Grace repeatedly told the judge that Bunge was “acting like a police officer” during the incident. He said Bunge only fired after someone in the red car pointed a gun at him.

However, no weapon was recovered.

Grace said the victims may have had “an opportunity to dispose of the weapon” after the shooting.

Cook County Judge John Lyke called the case “a head scratcher” before setting Bunge’s bond at $10,000, meaning he will need to put up $1,000 before being released from jail.

A Chicago Police spokesperson said Bunge has been stripped of his police powers and could face further punishment depending on the outcome of an investigation.

The shooting is being investigated by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. That agency released videos last month showing the shooting and the aftermath.

After Orozco and Ramirez called 911, they can be seen in body-camera footage talking with other officers about the shooting. Once police learned it was an officer-involved incident, they placed the two injured men under arrest, but no charges were ever filed against them, according to a federal lawsuit filed against Bunge and the city in February.

Attorneys for the men say they were parked behind Bunge’s car because they were trying to figure out directions. They say the officer “fired his gun at two unarmed Latino men who were sitting in a car, posing no risk to anyone.”

In a statement provided by his attorneys, Ramirez said that Bunge should be fired.

“He is too dangerous to be a law enforcement officer,” Ramirez said. “I thought we were going to die. I don’t want this to ever happen to anyone else.”

Patrick Smith is a reporter on WBEZ’s Criminal Justice Desk. Follow him @pksmid. Email him at psmith@wbez.org.