Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority released what the agency’s chief called “shocking and disturbing” video related to the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager last month.
The Chicago Tribune reports 18-year-old Paul O’Neal was shot in the back after he allegedly fled from officers in a stolen Jaguar in the city’s South Shore neighborhood on July 28. Although the video does not show the actual moment when O’Neal was shot, the footage shows officers firing their guns at the vehicle after it clipped a patrol car and sped away from them. Other footage shows police vehicles in pursuit of the Jaguar and O’Neal jumping out of the stolen car with officers giving chase. Multiple gunshots are heard as police followed O’Neal into a home’s back yard, with video showing officers handcuffing the teen as he lay face down dying on the ground with a bullet hole in his back.
“Bitch-ass motherfucker, fucking shoot at us,” one officer shouted at the dying young man. Other officers tried to make sense of what happened, apparently hoping O’Neal had a gun. “He shot back, right?” one asks. “Who was shooting in the alley, was that him?” another inquires. “Fuck, now I’m going to get a 30-day suspension,” one officer laments.
IPRA chief administrator Sharon Fairley, who called the videos “shocking and disturbing,” released a statement pledging the agency is working “as deliberately and expediently as possible in pursuit of a swift but fair determination” of what occurred on July 28. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson also stripped the three officers who shot at O’Neal of their policing powers, saying they apparently violated department policies.
“The shooting of Mr. O’Neal has raised a lot of questions about whether departmental policies were followed,” Johnson said in a statement Friday. “You can expect this department to be open and honest about what we discover and we will work together with our community partners to implement solutions.”
O’Neal’s family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department and the officers involved in the shooting. Michael Oppenheimer, the attorney representing O’Neal’s family, called the video footage “beyond horrific” and said he plans on requesting an investigation by a special prosecutor.
“There is no question in my mind that criminal acts were committed,” Oppenheimer, who is a former prosecutor, told the Tribune. “What I saw was pretty cold-blooded.” The lawyer added that “this goes down to training on race, this goes down to training on the community… There’s a lot that needs to be done. Some of it has been done. We have a long way to go.”
Oppenheimer accused the officer who killed O’Neal of intentionally shutting off his body camera before firing the fatal shots. “They decided they would control this, so the cover-up has begun,” he said. Ja’Mal Green, a spokesman for the O’Neal family, pointed out that the officers showed no remorse for their actions, letting the dying teen lie handcuffed “for a long time.”
The city’s rapid release of the videos stands in stark contrast to the case of Laquan McDonald, an unarmed black 17-year-old shot 16 times by Chicago police as he walked away from them in October 2014. Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder 13 months after McDonald was killed, with the delay in the release of police dashboard camera footage of the incident sparking protests and leading to the firing of the police superintendent Garry McCarthy.