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Witnesses: Man shot on train appeared unarmed

September 19, 2010 8:50:37 PM PDT
Questions surfaced Sunday night as more witnesses disputed the Chicago Police Department's account of a fatal police shooting Saturday on the CTA Red Line. Witnesses say a 19-year-old appeared to be unarmed. Police say he had a gun and was shot during a struggle.

The shooting happened on a train filled with passengers at the Garfield stop. Police say twoth officers opened fire on George Lash.

The man's aunt and sister are looking for answers.

Lash's family was speaking out after witnesses decided to so the same. Some people aboard the train early Saturday have contacted various media outlets to say they are not sure the shooting was justifiable.

According to his family, the 19-year-old was on his way home by himself after visiting friends on the South Side.

"She didn't have to shoot him. She could have Tasered him," said Lash's aunt Dorothy Johnson.

Lash was shot multiple times by Chicago police, who say the incident was cut and dry: Lash pointed a gun at the officers, and the officers fired back.

"Unfortunately, the events lead to a life being lost, but you know, when you try to murder police officers, that's what's gonna happen. I'm really glad our officers are safe. We took a dangerous person off the street," said Chicago Police Department Supt. Jody Weis. "Here he is riding on the train with a gun."

"I don't think he knew the police officers. So why was it his intention to kill officers? He wasn't a killer. He never killed anyone," Johnson said.

The shooting took place on a full train at 1:30 a.m. Saturday. Loretta Langford was on her way home from work when the train stopped at 55th and the Dan Ryan.

"The conductor said we were waiting for the Chicago police to come," said Langford.

Police say they were called by the conductor because one of the passengers was carrying a gun. According to police, that passenger was George Lash. However, Langford says she, nor the people she was sitting with on the train, ever saw Lash's gun during a struggle with the officers.

"They tussled him down to the ground and a lady officer said he had a gun, and they just started shooting. They had no regard for the people that were on the train or anything. They just started shooting. Whoever they were looking for was not on the train," Langford said.

Because some witnesses are disputing the police version of events, Lash's family is looking for answers.

"For the witnesses that have come forward, my family thanks you so, so much," said Johnson.

To find out exactly what happened, Lash's aunt says she will be contacting an attorney.

In the meantime, the Independent Police Review Authority is investigating.

Lash's family admits the 19-year-old has had a troubled past, but they say after Lash was recently released from jail on parole violation, he was determined to turn his life around and he had just signed up to get his GED.


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