By Bob Uphues
A 19-year-old Riverside man sustained what police have termed "non-life threatening" injuries after being shot in the leg by an unidentified police officer during an armed standoff in Harrington Park, near Harlem Avenue and Robinson Road, at about 10:25 p.m. on Feb. 5.
According to Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, the officer fired his weapon three times, hitting the man once in the leg. Paramedics, who were already at the scene, immediately administered aid and transported him to Loyola University Medical Center, where he was reportedly scheduled to undergo surgery.
The weapon being brandished by the Riverside man reportedly turned out to be a BB/pellet-type gun. It was described as looking like a MAC-10-type firearm.
"It looked like a real gun," Weitzel said.
The officer who fired his weapon at the man was not a Riverside officer, said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, but the investigators so far say they will not reveal the name of the officer or the agency for which he works.
According to Weitzel, police received a 911 call at about 9:20 p.m. about an armed person in the park. Police also received calls from "other residents and friends" of the man, reporting posts on Instagram indicating the man was "suicidal."
The initial police response to Harrington Park included officers from Riverside, North Riverside, Berwyn and Brookfield. Riverside police also initiated a callout to the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System (NIPAS), whose officers were assembling at the scene when the shooting occurred. Weitzel said that about 30 officers in all responded to the scene.
Weitzel said the Riverside man was "highly intoxicated" and talked with police for about an hour while either sitting on the grass or walking back and forth in the park between the playground and Harlem Avenue.
According to Weitzel, the man became more and more irritated and then started walking toward police, pointing his gun at an officer, who fired his gun at the man, striking him once in the leg.
The man was alert and conscious the entire time he was being tended to by paramedics, said Weitzel. Police are not releasing the name of the man who was shot, since the investigation is ongoing.
Because the shooting involved a police officer, the investigation has been handed over to the Illinois State Police's Public Integrity Unit. State police investigators are still in the process of collecting evidence and conducting interviews, and the scene of the incident was cordoned off for hours after the shooting.
It's not unusual for investigations of officer-involved shootings to take months, even a year or more, to be completed.
In all, said Weitzel, Harlem Avenue was closed to traffic between Lawton Road and Ogden Avenue for eight hours.