CHICAGO (AP) — The agency that investigates Chicago police misconduct cases prepared Friday to publicly release video related to an officer’s fatal shooting last week of an 18-year-old car theft suspect, footage the head of the agency calls “shocking and disturbing.”
The Independent Police Review Authority planned an 11 a.m. release of the video related to the July 28 shooting death of Paul O’Neal, who an autopsy found was killed by a gunshot wound to the back. It was unclear what the video would show.
It was the first time the city was making public such material in a fatal police shooting under a new policy that calls for it to do so within 60 days. That and other policy changes represent an effort to restore public confidence in the department after video released last year showing Laquan McDonald, a black teenager, shot 16 times by a white officer sparked protests and led to the ouster of the former police superintendent.
“Please bear in mind that this video material, 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,” Sharon Fairley, IPRA’s chief administrator, said in a statement Friday before the video was released.
Fairley said the video was being released because doing so won’t jeopardize the agency’s investigation.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson stripped three officers of their police powers after officials said a preliminary determination concluded they had violated department policy in the July 28 shooting.
Police have announced that a body camera of an officer involved in the shooting was not recording at the time.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that the department and the police review authority were trying to determine why the body camera wasn’t working. He said it is likely because the officer was unfamiliar with how to properly use the camera he only received shortly before the shooting or the camera malfunctioned.
“We don’t believe there was any intentional misconduct with body cameras,” he said.
The president of the Chicago police officer’s union lamented the release of video evidence, saying that it is unfair to the officers, could turn public opinion against them and even jeopardize their own safety.
“These guys live in the neighborhoods, their kids go to school, and their photos will be all over the Internet,” he said. “It doesn’t mean they did anything wrong but someone may see it and perceive the officers should not have taken the actions they did.”