CHICAGO — A Chicago officer is seen opening fire on a black Jaguar as it races down a tree-lined street. The car crashes. The driver bolts. Officers chase him into an alleyway between brick houses. Then multiple shots are heard.
“Get down! Hands behind your back! You shot at us mother——!”
Moments later, officers curse at 18-year-old Paul O’Neal as they put him in handcuffs. Hands behind his back, his arms appear limp. The back of his shirt is covered in blood. An officer holds his foot on O’Neal’s leg.
O’Neal died from his injuries.
The actual shooting, which occurred on July 28, isn’t seen in the footage because the officer’s body camera didn’t record the moment he opened fire. However, police say the officer who shot O’Neal in the back violated policy.
This video footage, which was released on Friday, prompted Chicago police to warn of “civil unrest” and potential violence against cops.
‘Shocking and disturbing’ footage
Sharon Fairley, head of the police oversight board that released the video, described the footage as “shocking and disturbing.”
The teen’s family saw the footage before it was released to the public on Friday. Ja’mal Green, a spokesman for O’Neal’s family, told CNN that relatives who watched the video immediately walked out of the room.
O’Neal led police on a chase through the South Side of Chicago. He had been suspected of stealing a car. The officer who fired the fatal shot was in a car that crashed with the Jaguar O’Neal was driving.
Whether the crash had an impact on the camera’s ability to record is under investigation, according to police. Investigators are also looking into whether the officer had turned it on.
However, “as shocking and disturbing as it is,” Fairley said the footage “is not the only evidence to be gathered and analyzed when conducting a fair and thorough assessment of the conduct of police officers in performing their duties.”
Three officers have been relieved of their police powers.
O’Neal’s family on Monday filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officers, alleging that they fired at the teen “without lawful justification or excuse.”
Chicago, a city rife with tension
The shooting was the latest to highlight the already tenuous relationship between some communities and police.
Many in the nation’s third-largest city are still reeling from the 2014 Laquan McDonald shooting, which left a Chicago officer facing a murder charge after more than a yearlong delay in releasing dashboard camera footage. And earlier this year, a task force established by the mayor released a report accusing the police of widespread racism.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who pledged the department’s “full cooperation” with the investigation, told reporters the shooting troubled him.
“If it’s an honest mistake, we’ll get them training, coaching, mentoring and get them back out there. But if it was intentional misconduct, then they have to be held accountable for it,” he said.
Though he cautioned he had not come to any firm conclusions, Johnson said the shooting had left him with “more questions than answers.”
“My promise to the people of Chicago is that we will be guided by the facts and should wrongdoing be discovered; individuals will be held accountable for their actions,” he said.