CHICAGO - A 13-year-old boy who was shot as he ran from a stolen car had put up his hands and had no weapon but was shot in the back by a Chicago police officer, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The lawsuit faults the Chicago Police Department for being slow to adopt reforms to address CPD’s "long sordid history of using excessive force," citing recent reports by the federal monitor overseeing the department and the claims of a former supervisor in the department’s audit division.
The boy, identified in the lawsuit by the initials "A.G.", has been hospitalized since he was shot May 18 after bolting from a car that police had been chasing with multiple squad cars and a helicopter after an alleged carjacking in Oak Park.
An officer chased A.G. on foot after the teen jumped out of the stolen Honda and shot him in the back, causing injuries to the teen’s spinal cord and internal wounds that have left the boy "permanently and catastrophically" injured, the lawsuit states.
"CPD’s shooting was wholly unjustified as A.G. was running away from the shooter, he was unarmed, and he posed no threat of harm to the officer who shot him or anyone in the vicinity," the lawsuit states. "Multiple witnesses at the scene reported that A.G. was complying with the officers’ directive for him to put his hands up — and indeed his hands were up — when John Doe Officer shot him."
At a news conference last week, police Supt. David Brown said the boy turned toward police when he was shot but would not comment on whether his hands were raised. No weapon was found at the scene. Despite police radio traffic among officers during the chase that said shots were fired at pursuing officers, Brown said that no one had shot at police.
Brown said the Accord was stolen May 16 after it was left running in the 100 block of West Randolph Street. The car then used in a carjacking the next night in Oak Park, when someone in a black face mask stole a Honda CRV left running with a 3-year-old inside near Lake Street and Oak Park Avenue. The toddler’s mother was injured as she was dragged by the car as it drove off, but the child was found unharmed 15 minutes later when the CRV was discovered abandoned in the 200 block of Madison Street, Oak Park police said.
The carjacker was seen getting into the Accord, which Brown said had been located by license plate readers around Chicago throughout the day of the shooting and came under surveillance of a police helicopter.
According to radio traffic, officers in pursuit of the car made a "10-1" call, meaning an officer in distress, and a dispatcher first says "shots fired at the police," but then says "shots fired by the police" as officers chased a suspect from the car.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates police shootings and misconduct allegations, has so far refused to release body-worn camera video of the incident. COPA initially refused to release similar video from the camera worn by the officer that shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo during a foot chase last year.
Toledo, who had been running with a gun after police arrived at the scene in response to a report of shots fired, was shot in the chest as he turned toward the officer with his hands raised. Video shows that Toledo had apparently placed the weapon behind a fence moments before he turned to face the officer. The city in June announced a temporary policy on foot pursuits but has yet to adopt a permanent policy.
The lawsuit notes that CPD had no foot pursuit policy prior to last June, meaning officers have received little training on chasing suspects. The lawsuit says the officer who shot A.G. had been running with his gun in hand, a violation of the temporary policy.
Attorneys for the teen’s parents have planned a news conference for 2 p.m. Thursday outside Stroger Hospital. The officer, who has not been named by the department, has been assigned to desk duty pending an investigation of the shooting.