On Friday, one week after the incident occurred, the city of Chicago police have released videos of the deadly encounter between unarmed 18-year-old Paul O’Neal and several members of the police force. The graphic video shows a stolen car being fired at by two officers before the teenage driver crashed and tried to run from the scene, only to be gunned down, shot in the back, and killed by an officer.
The video of the deadly encounter between yet another unarmed black man and the Chicago police is already sparking a huge backlash against the department.
The event that led to the death of Paul O’Neal occurred on July 28 on the South Side after he had been driving a Jaguar convertible reported stolen in Bolingbrook, Illinois. It was around 7:30 p.m. when the police tried to pull the teen over, and the video, from the body cameras as well as the dashboard cameras, show the resulting crash and chase.
On the body cam, two officers are seen stopping their SUV on a residential street while the stolen Jaguar rapidly approaches them head-on. The officers emerge from their car, guns drawn, as the Jaguar barrels pass, narrowly missing taking down one of the officers before both of the uniformed men open fire on the car speeding away from them.
Buzzfeed wrote of how O’Neal struck another officers’ car and crashed. While he was still behind the wheel of the convertible, more shots were fired by the police even before the unarmed teenager tried to run from the scene.
After the driver got out and ran behind a nearby house, more shots can be heard ringing out. The next we see, O’Neal is on the ground being kicked by an officer who called him a “motherf**ker,” with claims that he had shot at them.
Later another officer can be heard asking, “They shot at us too, right?”
At one point another officer involved in the shooting can be heard lamenting on how “I’m going to be on the desk for thirty g*****n days now.”
Only the police had fired shots during the altercation — the teenager had been unarmed. The cause of his death was a gunshot wound to the back.
Prior to the release of the videos, chief administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority, Sharon Fairley, had given a statement in which she said that the footage, “as shocking and disturbing as it is, 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.”
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that clear violations of departmental policy can be seen in the video which showcased the shooting death of Paul O’Neal. The superintendent has suspended the three officers involved in the shooting.
The O’Neal family was allowed to view the videos prior their release to the public, and according to the New York Times their lawyer, Michael Oppenheimer, has called the 18-year-old’s death an execution, and they intend to sue the police department.
“We just came from watching Chicago police officers execute Paul O’Neal. It is one of the most horrific things I have seen, aside from being in a movie. These police officers decided to play judge, jury and executioner.”
The videos released do not actually show the fatal shooting of O’Neal as the police reported that while the particular officer responsible for that shot had been wearing a body camera, it was not recording. Oppenheimer has claimed that the absence of this video is intentional and a part of a cover-up by the Chicago officers.
The fact that there was any video released at all, and just eight days after the shooting, is being seen as a step in the right direction for the Chicago Police Department, though, especially with all the previous accusations against them for withholding information regarding police misconduct. It took over a year before the video of the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was released by the department, and it took a court order for even that. Officer Jason Van Dyke is facing first-degree murder charges for that death.
The city then adopted a policy requiring video of police shootings to be made public within 60 days, and even by that standard, this release was speedy.
Pending a full investigation the police officers involved, whose names have not been released, in the fatal shooting of the unarmed teenager have been stripped of all police authority.
[Photo by Chicago Police Department via the Independent Police Review Authority/ AP Images]