Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas’ campaign on Wednesday defended his son after a media report detailed his involvement in a 2022 police shooting.
Vallas often talks about his son, San Antonio cop Gus Vallas, on the campaign trail, noting that they are a family of public servants with close ties to police. But the family relation arose in a starker context after the Triibe, a news site focused on Black Chicago, published a story about Gus Vallas’ role in a 2022 incident where three San Antonio police officers shot and killed a Black man who police said was wanted on felony warrants.
Officials with the Vallas campaign in a statement confirmed Gus Vallas’ involvement.
“The matter was the subject of a complete investigation,” the statement from Vallas’ campaign spokesperson said. “Gus Vallas was found not to have engaged in any violation of policy and was returned to full duty.”
The statement referred further comment to the San Antonio Police Department.
For Vallas, the shooting likely will renew scrutiny of his stances on police conduct. It also comes as shootings of Black citizens by police officers continue to roil the nation.
Vallas has campaigned on a platform calling for more vigorous policing and he is endorsed by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, which has been outspoken against police reforms. He also has been critical of Chicago Police Department policies restricting the circumstances in which officers can chase suspects.
At the same time, Vallas has said he wants full implementation of a 2019 federal consent decree that mandates reforms in Chicago police training, use of force, data management and other areas. The 800-paragraph court order was put in place following the Laquan McDonald case.
The Triibe report stems from a March 2022 incident where three officers attempted to stop 28-year-old Kevin Donel Johnson Jr., who is Black, while he was riding his bicycle, according to the San Antonio Express-News. At the time of the shooting, Gus Vallas had been on the force for four years.
Police said the officers had been searching for him because he was wanted on warrants for felony possession of a firearm and parole violation, according to the newspaper report.
Johnson fled and the officers chased him into a creek, with one cop caught on video shouting, “Get down, boy,” according to the newspaper and a video that included bodycam footage released by the San Antonio Police Department.
Police said they saw a gun in his hand and shouted, “Drop your hands.” Johnson stumbled and briefly faced police, who shouted, “He’s got a gun,” according to the newspaper. All three cops opened fired, according to the newspaper.
Video from the scene afterward shows a gun besides Johnson’s body, and San Antonio police said the gun found at the scene was forensically linked to multiple violent crimes.
Johnson’s mother, Arlene Garcia, was critical of police for shooting her son.
“They gunned him down like a hog,” she said, according to a local television station.