Crime

Unrest Anticipated After Cops Gun Down Unarmed Black Teen

| by Nik Bonopartis
An officer fires at a Jaguar driven by 18-year-old Paul O'Neal on July 28An officer fires at a Jaguar driven by 18-year-old Paul O'Neal on July 28

Chicago police are bracing for another round of civil unrest following the release of a new video showing the moments leading up to an 18-year-old black man's death at the hands of cops.

Paul O'Neal was killed in an alleyway on July 28 after leading police on a short car chase that ended with him trying to shake the cops on foot.

Footage shows officers firing on O'Neal as he drove an allegedly stolen Jaguar. Officers fired about 15 rounds at the teenager during the chase, violating department policy prohibiting police from firing on a moving car in the absence of other threats against officers, according to the Chicago Tribune.

After crashing the Jaguar into a police SUV, O'Neal bolted from the car and led police on a chase across driveways, through backyards and over fences, until officers finally caught up with him in an alley between two brick houses.

The actual moment of death isn't recorded because the officer who took the shots didn't have his body camera turned on, the Tribune reported. It's not clear why the device was off, and the Chicago Police Department did not respond to the newspaper's questions about the body camera.

But police released nine total videos of the incident, from the perspective of different units -- including body and dash cams -- and four more shots, presumably the rounds that killed O'Neal, were heard on those videos.

"Get down! Hands behind your back! You shot at us mother------!" police yelled at O'Neal before firing on him, according to CNN.

A few minutes later, police are seen cuffing the teenager's limp arms as a shroud of blood grew on the back of his shirt.

Afterward, police took stock of the situation.

"They shot at us, too, right?" one officer asked.

"F---, now I'm going to get a 30-day suspension," another officer said.

The footage was "beyond horrific," said Michael Oppenheimer, who is representing the O'Neal family in a lawsuit against the City of Chicago.

"They did everything but high-five each other," Oppenheimer told the Tribune, remarking on one video which shows officers shaking hands after shooting O'Neal.

One video shows an officer hanging outside of a patrol car and firing on the Jaguar head-on while another officer on foot also pumps shots into the car. As the Jaguar speeds by, the officers keep shooting despite the fact that at least one other police car and several officers are on the opposite side, directly in their line of fire.

Another video shows the same scene from the opposite point of view, recorded from the dash camera of a police officer who was driving an SUV. O'Neal's Jaguar crashed head-on into the SUV, with billows of smoke obstructing the camera's view. That officer was directly in the line of fire as his colleagues shot at O'Neal.

Police officials said they're worried about public reaction to the video after several months marked by racial turmoil, police-involved shootings recorded by cell phone cameras, and retaliatory mass shootings against cops in cities like Dallas and Baton Rouge.

And it's not just in Chicago -- police departments around the country were warned to keep their officers on high alert as news spread about the shooting and more people watched the footage online.

Reactions on Twitter came swiftly.

"Videos show pigs shooting wildly in neighborhood, cuffing Paul O'Neal's limp body, complaining about the desk duty that comes [with] murder," one user tweeted.

"Body camera of Chicago cop Who Fatally Shot Unarmed Paul O’Neal ‘Wasn’t Working’. I AM NOT SURPRISED AT ALL," another user wrote.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson was scheduled to speak about the shooting on the afternoon of July 5, just hours after the videos were released, but a group of protesters blocked his path to the podium and microphones that had been set up outside of police headquarters.

After several minutes, Johnson retreated back into the department, according to Chicago's WLS.

In a statement issued afterward, Johnson wrote that " individuals will be held accountable for their actions."

"The shooting of Mr. O'Neal has raised a lot of questions about whether departmental policies were followed," Johnson wrote. "While [the Independent Police Review Authority] conducts a thorough investigation, we will not wait to look for ways we can learn from this incident."

Johnson promised transparency in the resulting investigation, and said his department would be honest with its findings.

Despite that, Oppenheimer accused the officer who fired the shots of intentionally shutting off his body camera, and questioned whether police really would be transparent.

"They decided they would control this," he told the Tribune, "so the cover-up has begun."

Sources: CNN via KQFX, Chicago Tribune, WLS, Black Voice/Twitter, Bern Ventura/Twitter / Photo credit: Chicago Police Department via IPRA

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