Family of Dexter Reed files lawsuit against city and police officers involved in shootout that killed him

The family of Dexter Reed on Wednesday filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and five officers involved in the March 21 shooting in Humboldt Park that left Reed dead and a Chicago police officer wounded.

The 81-page, 17-count lawsuit was announced by Reed’s family’s attorneys at a news conference outside the Chicago Police Department’s Harrison District (11th) station Wednesday morning. The suit alleges Fourth Amendment violations by the five officers who stopped Reed’s SUV, as well as excessive force, denial of medical care, several Monell claims, a violation of the Illinois Civil Rights Act, willful and wanton conduct, assault, battery and a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“Defendant Officers who initially approached Dexter’s vehicle were outrageously escalatory,” the suit alleges. “They started by sideswiping Dexter’s vehicle — approaching him aggressively in an unmarked vehicle without any forewarning. Next, while wearing hoodies, jeans, and other casual clothing, they brandished their weapons in a threatening manner, screamed curse words at Dexter, and attempted to unlawfully enter his vehicle. Defendant Officers unlawfully pointed their guns at Dexter, thus escalating the situation and exponentially increasing the risk of death for everyone — Dexter, Defendant Officers, and bystanders alike. Then, Defendant Officers used wildly disproportionate force against Dexter — repeatedly shooting at him even when he clearly presented no threat.”

A spokesperson from the city’s Law Department said the city had not been served and declined to comment.

Reed’s mother, Nicole Banks, told reporters Wednesday that she has struggled to sleep in recent weeks, and that she’s watched the police bodycam footage of the shooting “over and over and over.”

“They executed him,” Banks said through tears. “He fell down and they put the handcuffs on him. That was not right. In the name of Jesus, I ask that he rest in peace.

“I am so hurt that they did my son like this,” she added.

The newly filed lawsuit makes no mention of the CPD officer shot in the wrist. During the family’s news conference, two passing drivers yelled that Reed should not have shot first, prompting rebukes from Reed’s family and supporters.

The footage released this month appears to show Reed — purportedly pulled over for not wearing a seat belt — shooting an officer in the wrist before four other tactical officers opened fire, shooting nearly 100 rounds, killing the 26-year-old in the 3800 block of West Ferdinand Street.

Nearly five weeks after his death, Reed’s autopsy has not been released publicly and it remains unknown how many times he was shot.

In the month since the shooting, Reed’s death has spurred activists’ calls for the CPD to cease its use of plainclothes tactical officers and to reexamine its policies on traffic stops. The shooting has also laid bare a rift between leaders of CPD and COPA.

Police bodycam footage shows the officers exit an unmarked police vehicle, draw their weapons and repeatedly order Reed to roll down his SUV’s tinted windows. Reed initially complied and rolled down his window, but appeared to disregard the officers’ commands to roll down the window on the passenger side.

Moments later, Reed appeared to shoot the CPD officer standing on the SUV’s passenger side. The other four officers then opened fire, shooting dozens of rounds at Reed, who exited the vehicle before falling to the pavement. One officer fired three more shots at Reed as he was lying motionless in the street.

That officer — just 23 years old — shot at least 50 times during the 41 seconds of gunfire. He was one of three officers who reloaded their weapons, according to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.

Cook County court records reviewed by the Tribune show that Reed, a former basketball standout at Westinghouse College Prep and Morton College, claimed to have developed post-traumatic stress disorder after he was wounded in another shooting in August 2021 and spent time in a coma while recovering at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Reed was also prohibited from having a firearm, and court records show he had a pending gun possession case at the time of his death that stemmed from a July 2023 arrest near the United Center.