The Chicago Police Department has released several videos from the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Paul O’Neal that occurred on July 28. O’Neal was speeding away from police in the South Shore Chicago neighborhood, and officers proceeded to open fire at the speeding car. Be forewarned, the videos provided by the Chicago Tribune are graphic, and you can see them here.
The footage shows O’Neal barreling down the street and crashing into one officer’s car. Two officers opened fire on him as he drove, and when O’Neal fled from the crash, a third officer pursued him behind a neighborhood home and shot him when he wouldn’t stop. O’Neal was unarmed during the police shooting and later died from a gunshot wound to his back. O’Neal and three other people had been linked to car thefts in the area.
Police and overall shootings are nothing new in Chicago, but what makes this incident unprecedented is the relatively early release of footage. Generally, the Chicago PD will make these videos available for the public about two to three months after the incident. But this footage was released a little over a week after the fact. To put that into perspective, video of police shooting Laquan McDonald was released 13 months after the incident occurred in November 2015. It’s a sign that the Chicago Police Department and city officials are not putting up with police shootings, not long after heads have rolled because of the department’s lack of transparency.
While the CPD was quick to release the videos, the footage does not show the shooting of O’Neal. Officers can be seen chasing him through neighborhood backyards and cuffing him, but the actual incident was not recorded. It may have been a malfunction from the body cam the officer was wearing or something more deliberate, but an investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) — the agency that looks into situations like this — is ongoing. The IPRA invited O’Neal’s family to its headquarters in Chicago, but were so distraught by the incident they didn’t stay to take questions from the press. The family’s lawyer, Michael Oppenheimer, echoed the O’Neal family’s sentiment and called the footage, “one of the most horrific things I have seen.”
In the aftermath of the event, the three officers who opened fire at the event were stripped of their police authority, pending an investigation by the IPRA. CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said he agrees with the IPRA’s decision, and punishment will be handed down:
“I applaud the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) and Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley for being so transparent and open with the video release and I want to pledge the full cooperation of the Chicago Police Department during this investigation. 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.”
The O’Neal family filed a federal civil rights suit Monday, and the IPRA said they are moving quickly to get the case resolved. Before police released this footage, they warned of possible “civil unrest” in the aftermath.