CHICAGO — A Cook County judge on Tuesday acquitted a Chicago police officer of two felony charges brought against her in connection with a shooting at a busy CTA train station in early 2020.
Cook County Judge Joseph Claps found CPD officer Melvina Bogard, 33, not guilty of aggravated battery and official misconduct, almost three years after Bogard shot an unarmed man at the Grand Red Line station.
On Feb. 28, 2020, Ariel Roman was traveling through the downtown area on a northbound Red Line train. As the train exited the Loop into River North, he walked from car to car — in violation of a city ordinance.
Roman’s attorneys previously said he was diagnosed with anxiety in 2019, and he moved about the train in an effort to calm his nerves. Roman, now 36, was also carrying a backpack that contained an illegal amount of marijuana, police said at the time.
Just hours earlier, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Charlie Beck, then the CPD’s interim superintendent, announced that an additional 50 officers would be assigned to the CTA’s train lines to combat rising criminal activity on public transit.
Bogard and her partner, Bernard Butler, were relatively new to the CPD, with each officer on the force for less than three years. When Roman exited the train at the Grand station, the two cops followed and confronted him near the foot of the escalator on the station platform. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grand station was among the busiest of the CTA’s train lines.
Bogard and Butler — who were already assigned to the CPD’s Mass Transit Unit — tried to place Roman under arrest, but he resisted. As the officers struggled to place him into custody, a passerby recorded the interaction on his cellphone.
The video shows Butler and Roman wrestling on the ground as two already-deployed stun guns lay on the floor. Roman — who ignored repeated orders from both cops to stop resisting — eventually regained his footing. Butler then told Bogard to shoot. After Roman took a few steps forward, Bogard fired a shot into his abdomen.
Roman then ran up the escalator toward the station’s main concourse area, and Bogard fired another shot at him, hitting him in the back.The witness immediately posted the video to social media, and the footage spread like wildfire before the CPD was able to issue its first statement on the shooting.
After the shooting, Roman was hit with resisting arrest and narcotics charges, though the state’s attorney’s office — at the CPD’s behest — opted to not prosecute Roman.
“Given the totality of the circumstances and the department’s significant level of concern around this incident, it would be insensitive to advocate for these charges,” a CPD spokesman said at the time.
Butler and Bogard were quickly stripped of their police powers after the shooting, and Roman soon filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city and both officers. That suit remains pending in Chicago’s federal court.
In April 2021, CPD Supt. David Brown brought a host of administrative charges against Bogard and Butler, accusing the two officers of violating several internal department rules. An evidentiary hearing on those charges is scheduled to begin next month, according to the police board.