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Investigators release videos of woman’s final moments before dying in police custody

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(CHICAGO) — Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability has released videos and documents related to the death of Irene Chavez, a woman who died in police custody last December.

The materials were released as part of an investigation by the civilian oversight agency looking into Chavez’s death.

According to police, the 33-year-old woman died after an “attempted suicide” on Dec. 18, 2021, at the 3rd District Police Station. The official cause and manner of death are pending autopsy results, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office told ABC News.

Body camera video released by COPA shows Chavez being arrested hours before her death and transported to the police station.

According to the incident report and videos released by COPA, Chavez told officers that she is a veteran and suffers from PTSD.

Police said Chavez was taken into custody after her involvement in a bar fight at the Jeffery Pub Tavern and was belligerent during processing.

Chavez could be heard by police shouting in the holding cell, the report said. After about five minutes of silence, an officer went to check on her well-being by looking through the window. That’s when Chavez was found with her shirt wrapped around her neck and a “faint pulse,” the report said.

Video released by COPA shows officers performing CPR before Chavez was transported to the University of Chicago Hospital. According to COPA, Chavez was in “critical condition” at the time and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

COPA said in a statement that the agency has been in touch with Chavez’s family and provided them with documentation for viewing prior to the release of materials.

Chavez’s family is now demanding answers from police.

Iris Chavez, Irene’s sister, told reporters in December that police have not provided details surrounding her sister’s death and called for an investigation.

Iris Chavez started a GoFundMe page to support the family in covering costs related to her sister’s death and said that Irene was her only sister.

“When I say my heart is what one would call broken glass in a bag…MY absolute FAVORITE PERSON IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD and ONLY SISTER HAS PASSED AWAY,” she wrote on the page.

Chavez is one of two women to die in Chicago police custody within less than two months.

COPA is also investigating the death of London Marquez, 31, who died on Jan. 27. According to Marquez’s family, she was pregnant at the time of her death.

The investigation is ongoing and the cause and manner of death are pending autopsy results by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Chicago police declined to comment and referred questions regarding both cases to COPA.

 

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