COPA releases bodycam video of Reginald Clay Jr.'s Chicago police shooting death

COPA has not verified that it will be releasing video of the shooting Wednesday

ByJessica D'Onofrio, Chuck Goudie, Liz Nagy, and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel WLS logo
Thursday, May 4, 2023
COPA releases bodycam video of Reginald Clay Jr. Chicago police shooting
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COPA released bodycam video Wednesday of Reginald Clay Jr.'s Chicago police shooting death in the Lawndale neighborhood last month.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Civilian Office of Police Accountability released video Wednesday morning of the fatal police shooting of 24-year-old Reginald Clay Jr.

COPA released video and other materials of the shooting, which took place April 15 in the 3800-block of West Flournoy Street.

Clay's family spoke Tuesday night after viewing the Chicago police body camera video of the incident.

Family said the shooting was unjustified and devastating to watch.

"That's something hard to watch," father Reginald Clay Sr. said. "I feel like my heart ripped out of my chest when I saw it."

The video is graphic.

ABC7 Chicago is showing the primary police video, which is silent. There is no sound because the first 30 seconds of bodycam video never has sound.

In the video, it is daytime, and the police foot chase proceeds quickly down a gangway.

The chase can be seen going up some stairs and around a corner, ending with the fatal encounter for Clay.

In a slower version of the same video, Clay is seen with what police say is a pistol.

"When the officer rounds the corner, the most compelling evidence is the individual presents a weapon and brings it up as if he's going to point it at the officer at that point. He's an imminent threat to the officer. He's completely justified in using deadly force in that situation," said Ed Farrell, a former deputy U.S. marshal in Chicago and ABC7 Chicago law enforcement expert.

Investigating authorities are examining the video to determine who did what and when and how it unfolded.

COPA has not yet made any conclusions.

RELATED: Family demands answers after police shoot, kill armed man in Lawndale

The agency will eventually make determinations and release findings based on the videos, other documentation and statements. That is for another day.

The release of the video is part of the city's police transparency efforts. It used to take months or years for these to be released. This just happened last month.

Clay's family said he was legally licensed to carry the gun.

"I can't even wrap my mind around this, seeing my son take his last breath," said his father Reginald Clay Sr.

"My baby put that gun down and he surrendered," said Tara Henderson, mother.

"This is going to be a tough one," said ABC7 legal contributor Tony Thedford. "Because I think that we can all agree, having watched the video, that Mr. Clay did have a gun appear to be a gun and certainly looked as if you were at reach for that gun after he had run out of places."

Farrell said there's no legal authority for turning a gun on law enforcement officers.

"Whether you have concealed carry, or a FOID card, that just basically says you can possess it legally in the state of Illinois. At no point does it give you the authority to raise the weapon at an officer in a threatening manner, where the officer would perceive you using deadly force against them. They're two separate things," Farrell said.

Clay's family said he was meeting friends on the street before heading to a funeral that day when police pulled up.

Police said they were in the area to deescalate a gang conflict that day. They said Clay turned around at the end of the gangway and brandished a gun.

Anyone with information or video footage related to the incident is asked to contact COPA at 312-746-3609 or by visiting