2 CPD officers relieved from police powers after traffic stop shooting

ByJessica D'Onofrio, Leah Hope, and Liz Nagy via WLS logo
Saturday, July 30, 2016
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Investigators are reviewing video captured by body cameras in the city's latest police shooting.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two Chicago police officers have been relieved from their police powers after Thursday night's shooting that left one man dead, according to the Office of the Police Superintendent.

A suspect behind the wheel of a stolen car was shot and killed by Chicago police Thursday night, officials said. The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office identified the person shot by officers as 18-year-old Paul O'Neal, of the 1700-block of East 70th Street.

A statement from the Superintendent's Office said while the incident is still under investigation by IPRA, CPD investigators determined three officers discharged their weapons. It appeared that departmental policies may have been violated by at least two of the police officers, the Superintendent's Office said.

The two officers have been relieved of their police powers and will be assigned to administrative positions within the agency pending the outcome of IPRA's investigation, the Superintendent's Office said.

Friends and family of O'Neal gathered together Friday night to hold a rally.

"He was good hearted, warm hearted, but the decision he did was wrong," Zhivago Short, O'Neal's cousin said.

O'Neal was 18, just graduated from a nearby technical school, and had plans of college.

"Many people have family members who have made mistakes," Jennifer Watson, a family friend, said. "However it's only in Chicago, in African American communities, where young people are paying for mistakes with their life."

Now O'Neal won't have a chance at another diploma, and the Chicago police officers who shot and killed him may not patrol the streets again.

Police said around 7:30 p.m. Thursday, officers spotted a Jaguar convertible that was reported stolen in southwest suburban Bolingbrook earlier in the day. They pulled over the driver in the 7400-block of South Merrill Avenue in the city's South Shore neighborhood.

The Jaguar was blocked in by at least two police vehicles. Police said that's when the driver tried to take off.

"The driver of the stolen vehicle put the vehicle in drive, and literally forced his way out by sideswiping both the squad car and a vehicle that was parked on the street on Merrill. It was at that time that we believe two officers discharged their service weapons," said John Escalante, First Deputy Superintendent, Chicago Police Department.

The driver was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he later died. Another 18-year-old in the car was arrested and is being questioned. He was not hurt.

People who live on the quiet residential street we shocked by what happened.

"It really upset me because I haven't been this close to an incident like this since I moved over here in 1971," said Adron Knighton, a neighbor.

Police said the officers were wearing body cameras when the shooting happened and cameras inside the police vehicles were activated. The Independent Police Review Authority will review the footage and determine if the shooting was justified.

Eric Russell, president of the Tree of Life Justice League of Illinois, said it was not justified.

"So how is it, a chase ends up in a homicide, and our kid, chased a kid down. These kids don't have visas. These kids aren't not going to skip the country. These kids have a small world. If you don't catch them today, you catch them tomorrow," Russell said. "We know that there is a precedence that our children are steadily being shot by the Chicago police and we are just outraged as a community."

An IPRA spokesperson said an unspecified number of officers were taken to University of Chicago Medical Center for minor injuries. They were not shot. They are expected to be OK.

The officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative duty for 30 days.

O'Neal's friends are expected to hold a vigil at the scene Friday night.

Lamon Reccord is a friend of O'Neal and a well-known activist.

"This is the 13th brother I've lost to gun violence, by the police or black on black crime. I'm tired, I'm fed up," he said.

On Friday, Reccord was escorted into Chicago Police Headquarters by the CAPS coordinator to meet with police executives about the case.

"It's a heartbreak to see African Americans get gunned down by each other already and to see the police kill us as well, it's time to abolish the bad police officers," Reccord said.

This was the second police-involved shooting within an hour in Chicago Thursday night. Around 6:50 p.m., a robbery suspect was shot by policein the 6700-block of South May Street in the city's Englewood neighborhood. IPRA is also investigating use of force in this shooting.