Cop caught on video killing unarmed man in ’03 found shot dead at home
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org May 5, 2011 6:48PM
In this video of CHA surveillance, 0fficer Alvin Weems shoots Michael Pleasance at the Red Line 95th Street stop.
Updated: June 7, 2011 12:41AM
A Chicago Police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man at a CTA station in 2003 was found shot to death Thursday in what appears to be a suicide.
Officer Alvin Weems, 51, was found shot to death in his home, the medical examiner’s office said. The death appears to have been self-inflicted, although an autopsy is scheduled for Friday.
“It doesn’t bring any closure,” said Maurice Pleasance, a brother of Michael Pleasance, who the officer shot in 2003. “It’s an unfortunate situation for both our families.... We don’t take any comfort in knowing that an individual committed suicide. We don’t know what his state of mind was.”
Just a month ago, Ald. Freddrenna Lyle questioned the 30-day suspension and promotion given to Weems as the City Council approved a $3 million settlement to compensate the family of 23-year-old Michael Pleasance.
Weems, dressed in plainclothes, fatally shot Pleasance in the face on March 8, 2003, while responding to a fight at the CTA’s 95th Street terminal.
Weems had said that while breaking up the fight, Pleasance threatened him. Then Weems’ gun accidentally went off.
But the shooting was captured by a CTA surveillance camera and shows a different scenario. The video — which was widely viewed on YouTube — shows Weems pulling a young man out of the fight as Pleasance stands off to the side pointing and apparently trying to talk to the officer. The video then shows Weems raising his gun and shooting Pleasance in the face.
After the video was made public, Weems’ version of the events that led to the shooting changed.
The Office of Professional Standards recommended Weems be fired, but then-Police Supt. Phil Cline reduced his penalty to a 30-day suspension before promoting him to detective.
A wrongful death case was filed by Pleasance’s family, and a jury in December 2007 awarded them $12.5 million, but an appellate court overturned that award in 2009. A three-judge panel said the city didn’t get a fair trial because lawyers for Pleasance’s family improperly referenced the city’s admission that Weems’ misconduct caused the death.