Chicago Police Shoots Unarmed Suspect In The Back
On July 28, 2016, 18-year old Paul O’Neal was fatally shot by Chicago police. The shooting is under investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). Paul was shot in the back.
Yesterday, numerous videos were released to the public. There is no video of Paul being shot in the back because the body cam of the officer who fired the shot was not turned on.
Some are only looking at this from the side of Paul committing a crime, but there are two sides. Two wrongs never make a right.
Paul O’Neal was captured on video at a gas station in Bolingbrook, Illinois where 3 vehicles were stolen overnight. The vehicles were a 2009 Buick Enclave, a 2003 Honda Odyssey and a 2010 Nissan Rogue. Bolingbrook is a suburb of Chicago.
About 3 hours after the vehicles were stolen in Bolingbrook, a 2002 Jaguar XKR convertible was reported stolen. One of the other stolen cars seen at the gas station was recovered nearby.
At about 7:30 p.m. on July 28, 2016, Paul O’Neal is seen driving the Jaguar on the Southside of Chicago. Chicago police attempted to stop the Jaguar, but it hit a Chicago police SUV and a parked car while continuing to flee. Two officers opened fire while Paul was still in the Jaguar.
Paul ran from the car. There was a 17-year-old boy who was also in the car. Police took the juvenile into custody. According to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, Paul was shot once in the back. Paul’s family however, says that they have not been told how many times Paul was shot. Paul was unarmed. In the released videos, Paul is shown being handcuffed after he was fatally wounded.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has stripped the three officers of their police powers pending the outcome of an IPRA investigation, saying they violated unspecified department policies.
Yesterday, CNN reported that the policies and procedures of the Chicago police forbids them from shooting at a fleeing vehicle. The videos capture at least 15 shots being fired in about five seconds as the Jaguar passes the officers and drives away. There were officers waiting in the direction that Paul was driving, and shooting at the fleeing vehicle placed them in harm’s way. The officer who shot Paul in the back admitted that he did not know if Paul was armed or unarmed.
In one of the videos, the officer who shot and killed Paul is captured in a discussion with a Sargent;
“Man, this is so f—– up, man. I don’t want nothing to happen to that f—— guy, dude,” he says to the sergeant. “The way s—‘s going man, I’m going to be f—— crucified, bro.”
At that point, the sergeant seeks to reassure the officer, citing the car theft as justification for what happened.
“Relax, he was in a hot car. Nothing to worry about.”
The officer asks whether a weapon was recovered from the Jaguar.
“I’m not sure, but just relax,” the sergeant says. “Don’t worry about it. They were in a hot car.”
A suspect in a stolen car still has civil rights. The penalty for stealing cars is not death. An unarmed, fleeing suspect is not a threat. Police officers in this incident have no discretion to disobey procedures. They placed citizens and each other in harm’s way by shooting at a fleeing vehicle. If in fact it was their procedural violations that led one officer to believe that Paul was armed to justify shooting him in the back, then those officers who fired at the fleeing vehicle are just as responsible for Paul’s death as the officer who fired the fatal shot.
There are times I think that the NRA and gun lovers caused the problem in America that makes police officers obsessively nervous that people are armed. It makes their job all the more difficult, causing them to draw their weapons at the blink of an eye. It has caused a reverberation effect of fear because even law abiding citizens are fearful of being shot by police officers by accident, negligence, or even the unjustified fear of the shooting officer. The killings of Bettie Jones, Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo, Akai Gurley, Rekia Boyd, Shelly Frey, and so many, many others come to mind. How does America overcome the fear?
The video of the press conference offers very interesting questions and points of view.