A new video released by the American city of Chicago shows the city’s police brutally shooting an unarmed African-American teenager.
According to the account of the story, 17-year-old Cedrick Chatman was shot as he fled officers who stopped him for a car theft. The officers were identified as Kevin Fry and Lou Toth.
Local media in the city narrated that Chatman was shot in the afternoon of January 7, 2013, in the South Shore neighborhood of the city. The police also said Chatman and two others, Akeem Clarke and Martel Odum, robbed a man who was selling a cell phone. Chatman drove off in the man’s car, while Clarke and Odum kept the cash from the robbery.
According to the police, the officers had stopped the silver Dodge Charger Chatman was driving because it matched the description of the reported stolen car. However, as the officers approached, Chatman bolted from the car and ran down Jeffrey Avenue. The officers that had approached Chatman, were dressed in plainclothes.
Officer Fry, who fired at Chatman, told investigators in 2013 that he saw Chatman turn around and point an object at them when they tried to arrest him. He said this action prompted him to fire four shots, hitting Chatman twice.
Attorneys for Chatman’s family disputed this account, and called for the footage of the incident to be made public. In response, the police objected to the release of the video, arguing that it will not help in the investigation process.
Judge Gettleman ripped city attorney's for their "irresponsible" sudden change of position. All of a sudden "it's the Age of Enlightenment?"
— Jason Meisner (@jmetr22b) January 14, 2016
However, attorneys for the family pushed for the release of the video again early this year, and District Court Judge Robert Gettleman sided with them, lifting the Protective Order on the recordings of the incident on January 14.
“I went to a lot of trouble to decide this issue, and then I get this motion last night saying that this is the age of enlightenment with the city and we’re going to be transparent. I think it’s irresponsible,” Gettleman said during his ruling.
From the video, Chatman is seen running away from the car. One of the officers then pointed his gun and fired in his direction. When the camera panned over to the other corner, Chatman is seen lying motionless on the ground. The video never showed Chatman pointing an object at the officers.
The shooting was captured on the police surveillance camera, a camera outside a nearby convenience store, and a camera near the South Shore High School.
The Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) had ruled earlier that the shooting was justified. The IPRA said in a report, “The video supports Officer Fry’s observation that (Chatman) was pointing a firearm at Officer Toth,” concluding that the “use of deadly force was in compliance with Chicago Police Department policy.”
The video revealed that the object Chatman was holding was a black box containing an iPhone, which he never pointed at the officers.
It is said a senior IPRA investigator, Lorenzo Davis, was fired after he concluded in his investigation that the shooting was unacceptable. Davis said his last performance review accused him of “a complete lack of objectivity combined with a clear bias against the police,” and said he was the only supervisor who refused to make “requested changes as directed by management in order to reflect the correct finding”in cases of officer-involved shootings. Davis had reviewed the surveillance videos during the course of his investigation. He had told the Chicago Tribune, that he never saw Chatman turn toward the officers.
“Chatman was just running as the shots were fired. You’re taught that deadly force is a last resort and that you should do everything in your power to apprehend the person before you use deadly force. I did not see where deadly force was called for at that time,” Davis said.
One of the attorneys for Chatman’s family, Brian Coffman, told local media that the release of the video would show a systemic problem in the city. He was quoted as saying, “This is a bomb that’s about to drop in the city of Chicago, where everyone suddenly realizes the system is broken.”
In November 2015, Officer Jason Van Dyke from the Chicago Police Department was indicted for first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, in October 2014. McDonald was shot 16 times by Van Dyke. When the video of the incident was released, it triggered many protests in the city, with protesters alleging that there has been a cover up of the case, and that some city officials must resign.