Three Chicago police officers have been relieved of their policing powers and assigned to administrative roles after they opened fire and killed an African-American teenager suspected of stealing a vehicle last week.
Paul O’Neal, 18, was shot in South Merrill on Thursday as he attempted to flee from police officers who were trying to stop him as he drove about in a stolen Jaguar car. According to the Chicago Tribune, two police officers opened fire on O’Neal after the vehicle he was driving struck a police SUV and a parked car. Another officer also shot at O’Neal as he tried to escape from the stolen car after it crashed into another police vehicle. The police have revealed that O’Neal was not in possession of a gun at the time he was shot.
O’Neal was taken to a hospital but later died from his injuries. An autopsy revealed that he was shot in the back.
On Friday, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced that after reviewing details of the shooting, he has decided to strip two officers involved in the incident of their policing powers, the Chicago Tribune reported. On Saturday, a third officer was also relieved of his duties, Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed.
Guglielmi described the suspension of the three officers as a “deviation from normal protocol,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Usually, officers involved in such incidents are put on desk duty and monitored. However, in this case, the three officers will be barred from partaking in police duties until an investigation into the case by the Independent Police Review Authority and the local police department is complete.
Johnson has admitted that the three officers may have violated departmental policies by their actions during their confrontation with O’Neal. He noted that after reviewing preliminary information about the incident, he was left with more questions than answers.
Since the investigation is still ongoing, Johnson did not shed light on the departmental policies that the three officers may have violated. However, there are speculations that it relates to the use of deadly force against moving vehicles. In February, 2015, the Chicago Police Department updated its policy, banning police officers from shooting a moving vehicle unless the officer in question or another person is being threatened with a weapon, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Chicago Police Department is expected to release videos of the shooting recorded by the dash cams in the vehicles of responding police units and the body cams worn by the officers involved. A petition created on Change.org calling for the release of the dash cam and body cam videos has gotten more than half of the target 500 signatures.
Johnson has noted the three police officers would be held accountable if they are found to have acted wrongly, according to CBS.
Johnson’s decision to suspend the three police officers involved in the shooting has been widely welcomed.
Meanwhile, according to CBS, a 17-year-old boy was in the stolen Jaguar vehicle with O’Neal before the latter attempted to flee and was shot. The teenager has not been identified. However, he has reportedly been charged with being in possession of a stolen vehicle. The convertible Jaguar car was allegedly stolen from Bolingbrook. The owner of the vehicle has not been identified, and it is unclear how the cops knew it was a stolen car at the time they chased O’Neal.
Across Chicago, up to five people were killed, and 31 others sustained injuries in shootings this past weekend, NBC Chicago reported.
[Photo by M. Spencer Green/AP Photo]