Chicago officer charged with attempted murder

A Chicago police officer will be arraigned later this month on charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm, disorderly conduc...

Posted: Feb 11, 2021 2:03 AM

A Chicago police officer will be arraigned later this month on charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm, disorderly conduct for false reports of an offense, and obstruction of justice stemming from an incident last October, according to officials and an indictment obtained by CNN affiliate WBBM.

Officer Joseph Cabrera turned himself in on January 6, Chicago police said. Cabrera is accused of grabbing a 22-year-old man by the neck while off-duty and then shooting at him, according to the Cook County State's Attorney in a bond proffer on January 6. The victim was not hit by the bullet. A 21-year-old woman with the man was listed as a witness to the incident.

Cabrera, an eight-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, was "relieved of his police powers and could face additional disciplinary actions pending the outcome of the criminal and administrative investigations," the police department said in a January 6 statement. Cabrera was released on bond the same day. Police declined to provide additional updates, citing the open Civilian Office of Police Accountability investigation.

CNN is not currently naming the 22-year-old man because the prosecutor's office considers him the victim of a crime.

The indictment alleges that, after the shooting, Cabrera falsely reported to a 911 operator and a police officer that he was attacked, and furnished investigators with false information about why he fired his firearm.

In the proffer in support of setting bond, the state's attorney said the victim and witness were parked in a car near the witness' home. Cabrera approached the victim's car and asked them if they were OK or if they need an ambulance. The two were "confused" by Cabrera's question, according to prosecutors, but they told him they were fine and Cabrera "returned to his parked vehicle and remained behind" them. The proffer in support of setting bond was filed in the Cook County Circuit Court on January 6.

The victim and witness drove around the block because they felt "uncomfortable," according to the court filing, and when they returned, Cabrera was gone. A little while later, it says in the court filing that Cabrera "returned, and, again, drove up and parked behind them."

Cabrera allegedly got out of his car and yelled at the victim and the witness to leave, according to the filing. The victim got out of his car and "the two men continued yelling at each other," the state's attorney writes in the filing.

Cabrera allegedly grabbed the victim by the neck and the victim punched him in the top of the head.

Cabrera then grabbed his gun and fired one round toward the victim's legs, missing him, it says in the court filing.

The state's attorney's office writes that Cabrera "falsely claimed he had been attacked and knocked to the ground prior to discharging his weapon," a claim they say was refuted by the victim, his passenger, and another witness: a woman walking her dog nearby.

Cabrera was taken to the hospital after complaining of chest pains, according to the court filing. The state's attorney's office said Cabrera appeared to be intoxicated on the body-worn camera footage recorded immediately after the shooting and he had a .104 breath alcohol concentration level in a test administered to him "nearly four hours after the shooting."

Cabrera's attorney has not responded to multiple CNN requests for comment. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, his attorney, Will Fahy, said at a bond hearing in January that his client "acted reasonably." Calls to Cabrera were not returned.

"All of his actions were consistent with someone who believed he was acting reasonably in self defense," Fahy said, the Sun-Times reported. "He remained on the scene, he called police immediately after the incident, he cooperated with the investigation."

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) released video from the incident, including body-worn video from officers who arrived after the altercation, third party video, and 911 calls.

In the 911 call Cabrera made, he told dispatchers, "I'm an off-duty police officer. I was just attacked and I discharged a round." Cabrera told the dispatcher someone knocked him to the ground and he "discharged a round."

"He was attacking me and I fired a round," Cabrera said.

"That guy was really aggressive and he asked us the first time like 'oh are you guys okay, do you guys need (an) ambulance or help or anything' and I was like 'no, we're both fine.' And he stays in back of us. So I turn around ... and he comes in back of us again and he's like, 'I don't know what kind of bullsh** you guys are pulling but you guys need to get the f*** out of here.' And I'm like 'sir, we're not arguing, what? Are things going on? What is your problem?' And he started getting aggressive with me, and then he started putting his finger in my face and he grabbed my neck. And that's when I punched him. And then he pulled out a f***ing gun on me and shot me," the 22-year-old man said.

"Investigative efforts to date reveal this shooting was preceded by a verbal altercation between Officer Cabrera and another individual ultimately resulting in the officer discharging his firearm in the direction of the civilian(s). There were no reported injuries," COPA said in a January statement.

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office told CNN the indictment was announced on February 3. Cabrera is expected to be in court on February 19.

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