Another police shooting video has been released, this time of a 17-year-old teen named Cedrick Chatman, shot to death after a foot pursuit following a carjacking. Video of his shooting by Chicago police officer Kevin Fry was made public after an appeal — and a fight with the city — from his family.
Chatman’s family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit and have fought for months to have the video released, The Chicago Sun Times reported. The city has fought this move tooth and nail, but on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman ordered its release.
Cedrick’s mother wanted the video released so that the public could see a different version of events than the one the police have given, the Chatman family attorney, Brian Coffman, said.
“What you’re going to see [is] a young kid running away from the police in broad daylight get shot and killed.”
Three years ago, Cedrick was pursued down the streets of Chicago after he allegedly carjacked a Dodge Charger. The video was captured from a “blue light” camera mounted above an intersection near a high school and local businesses. In the footage, the Charger stops at a light, Fry and fellow officer Lou Toth pull alongside him in an unmarked patrol car, then spring out of the vehicle with guns drawn. Cedrick runs for it.
According to an account of the pursuit as described by the Sun Times, Chatman runs down the street and rounds a corner; the officers gave chase. The video doesn’t have sound, so it’s not clear when the first shots were fired, but as Chatman ducks between two parked cars, he and Toth both duck.
As Cedrick runs further away, Fry stops in the street and points his gun in the teens’ direction (and towards two bystanders) as Toth comes around a corner. Then the teen falls to the sidewalk and Toth apparently places the teen in handcuffs. At that point, CNN noted that Tooth puts his right boot on the shoot teen.
Fry claimed that he shot Cedrick because he believed he was a threat to his partner, who was close behind him.
“As Mr. Chatman approaches the corner, he makes a slight turn, a subtle turn to the right with his upper body. I see in his right hand a dark gray or black object,” Fry said; so he shot four times. He didn’t say anything beforehand, or give orders before firing his weapon. “I felt his threat was as such that I didn’t have time to say anything.”
The object in Chatman’s hand wasn’t a weapon — it was a black iPhone box he’d apparently stolen from the car, and which he never pointed at either officer. After he’d been wounded, Cedrick reportedly told Toth “I give up. I’m shot.” The teen later died at a local hospital.
An investigation into Cedrick’s shooting by the State’s Attorney and the Independent Police Review Authority officially cleared both officers, after IPRA investigator and former police officer and attorney Lorenzo Davis refused to exonerate them. At first, he ruled the shooting was unjustified, and claims he was fired as a result. He has since filed a lawsuit against the city.
“I pay most attention to Officer Fry. Mr. Chatman is simply trying to get away. He’s running as fast as he can away from the officers. Officer (Lou) Toth is right behind him; he’s doing the right thing. He’s pursuing him. He’s trying to capture him, while Officer Fry, on the other hand, has both of his hands on his weapon. He is in a shooter’s position. He is looking for a clear shot.”
The police department hired a new investigator, who cleared the Fry and Toth for shooting Cedrick Chatman.
Fry has a long history of excessive use of force complaints: 10 altogether, among 30 general complaints. Back in 2007, he and a partner shot a 16-year-old black male at a school after mistaking his shiny belt buckle for a weapon. Like Cedrick Chatman’s, that shooting was deemed justifiable, but the city settled with the teen and his family for $99,000, without an admission of guilt.
[Photo Via City of Chicago Law Department/AP]