Trial begins for former Chicago police officer charged with killing neighbor while off-duty

A former Chicago police officer, who was off-duty at the time of the incident, is on trial for murdering his neighbor.

This trial is almost three years in the making.

In their opening arguments, prosecutors told the court there had been bad blood between former officer Lowell Houser and the man he shot two times: his neighbor, Jose Nieves.

“I try not to cry, I try to be strong and like I said, it's hard,” said Angelica Nieves. “It's tough. It really is.”

Wearing a "Justice For My Brother Jose" t-shirt, Angelica described day one of the trial as the hardest day she's had since the day in January 2017 when her brother was shot and killed.

“It's different when you're taken by a car accident or sick or injured, but when you're murdered? The pain doesn't go away,” said Angelica.

Houser, 60, has been charged with first-degree murder.

On Tuesday afternoon, Jose’s then-girlfriend, who was outside the northwest side apartment when the shooting happened, testified that before it happened, Houser had yelled profanity at her and Jose.

“To hear how he took his last breath, and to know that he was just on the floor by himself with no assistance, nobody giving him any type of help? It hurts,” said Angelica.

Houser's attorney says his client acted in self-defense, using deadly force because he thought Jose was reaching for a weapon. Houser wound up shooting Jose once in the hand and once in the lower back. Jose was unarmed.

“I have faith in the state's attorney, Kim Foxx’s office, and I want justice and hope I get justice,” said Angelica.

Houser is no longer an active member of the Chicago Police Department, but had been on the police force for 28 years.

The bench trial resumes at 11 a.m., and the case could be wrapped up and in the judge's hands by Wednesday night.