Family questions IPRA in 2007 case

Teen fatally shot in 2007
March 13, 2009 2:53:51 PM PDT
The Independent Police Review Board (IPRA) is expected to issue a report by the end of the month on the death of 18-year-old Aaron Harrison, a Chicago teenager was shot and killed by Chicago police officers in August 2007.For Harrison's family members and friends, the report has been a long time coming. Since the 2007 shooting, the IPRA investigating the incident has made no ruling on whether officers followed procedure.

Friday, relatives and community activists demanded action and got it, kind of.

A frustrated Ashunda Harris, one of the teen's relatives, was looking for more than justice Friday. She wanted a decision in the 2007 police shooting that claimed the life of her 18-year-old nephew.

"No answers. None. Not one answer about how to the progress of the case is moving," she said.

However, that changed somewhat Friday morning as Harris, supported by a group of community leaders, met with the IPRA and demanded to know why two years have passed without what they call significant movement in the investigation.

"How hard can it be? Either the police followed procedure or either he killed a civilian without regard to the law," said Pastor Marshall Hatch of Leader's Network.

"Our goal is to make a thorough investigation. When that happened it will be concluded," said the IPRA's Ilana Rosenzweig.

Rosenzweig says the Harrison investigation is one of several her office inherited from the Chicago Police Department's former Office of Professional Standards.

"I can't talk about the details of the investigation. I can say that it's been good for the family to provide us with information that only they had access to," Rosenzweig said.

The IPRA was created in September 2007 and currently has roughly 1,500 cases open alleging police misconduct. It only investigates complaints involving incidents like excessive force and police shootings.

Although officials say the IPRA is committed to increasing transparency, critics are doubtful.

"Why can we not have the officer's picture? Their name? And the investigation to take six months?" said Linda Sabo of Clergy Committed to Community.

Protesters and neighborhood activists took to the streets after Harrison was shot by police after he allegedly first fled, then pulled a weapon on officers. The teen's relatives contend he was shot in the back for no reason. A determination has not been completed but promised. In fact, IPRA officials now say a final determination in the matter could come as soon as the end of March.

The IPRA has already concluded investigation into two of its other police-involved shootings and, as promised, made those public. In both cases, officers were found to have to properly followed department procedures.