Video footage was released Friday of the shooting death of Paul O’Neal, an 18-year-old unarmed Black man, by a Chicago police officer on July 28. More than 40 hours of video, captured by police dashboard and body cameras, was released via the city’s Independent Police Review Authority’s online case portal around 11 a.m today.
O’Neal was suspected of driving a stolen vehicle, and a chase with police ensued. Video footage shows officers handcuffing O’Neal after he is shot and bleeding on the ground. O’Neal was unarmed and shot in the back.
The video suggests that the officer who fired the fatal bullet may have believed O’Neal had fired on officers. What he heard in reality was other police officers discharging their weapons.
Three of the officers involved may have violated policy in the fatal shooting, said Eddie Johnson, the city’s police superintendent, in a weekend conference. “A lot of people are upset by what they saw, and quite honestly, they have a right to be upset.”
Supt. Johnson could not provide specific details, citing the ongoing investigation, but he did issue a public statement.
“What I can say is that I was concerned by some of the things that I saw in the videos, and that’s why we took such a swift action that we did last week to relieve the three officers of their police powers,” he added.
The full statement from Supt. Johnson said:
“I applaud the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) and Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley for being so transparent and open with the video release and I want to pledge the full cooperation of the Chicago Police Department during this investigation.
My promise to the people of Chicago is that we will be guided by the facts and should wrongdoing be discovered; individuals will be held accountable for their actions.
The shooting of Mr. O’Neal has raised a lot of questions about whether departmental policies were followed. While IPRA conducts a thorough investigation, we will not wait to look for ways we can learn from this incident.
I’ve challenged my team to take a hard look at the training and tactics from this incident, including looking at national best practices on use of force to determine how we can best serve our officers so that they can best serve the people of the city.
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.
In order to work toward making a better department we must acknowledge the things we can do better and that work starts today.”
IPRA Administrator Sharon Fairley also released a statement Friday morning:
“First and foremost, like all Chicagoans, I am deeply saddened by the death of Paul O’Neal and my heart goes out to his family and friends and to the community that has lost yet another young black man. I want to express my personal commitment to seeing that justice is served and our pursuit of justice here will be steadfast. I applaud Superintendent Johnson for his swift and immediate actions in this incident.”
IPRA said the investigation is still in its early stages and they are moving as quickly as possible to come to a fair conclusion.
Fraternal Order of Police president Dean Angelo released a statement Friday afternoon:
“As the Chicago Police Department continues its investigation, the Fraternal Order of Police awaits further developments and communications concerning this incident. While there are multiple aspects to consider pertaining to the released videos, it is important to be mindful of how rapidly this event unfolded. Due to the fact that this chaotic incident occurred in a matter of moments, each individual perspective needs to be taken into consideration.
It is the Lodge’s hope that the process of this investigation will be conducted in a manner that is guided by the utmost level of professionalism and expertise. Now more than ever, police-involved situations which result in a death need to be completed in a time frame necessary to ensure that a thorough and impartial examination is adhered to.
While this case remains fluid in nature, it is of critical importance to every Chicagoan to not rush to judgement and to allow the systems in place to play out.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement Friday evening:
“A young man lost his life, and as a city we grieve any time that happens. I support Superintendent Johnson’s quick and decisive action over the past eight days, which I believe underscores the fundamental change in how the city handles police shootings. I know Sharon Fairley is already investigating this case, and I have faith that she will reach a conclusion and promptly issue recommendations.”
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