Chicago's top cop has few answers after officer shoots unarmed teen running from vehicle

An unarmed 13-year-old boy was shot and critically wounded by Chicago police Wednesday after officers stopped a car wanted for a carjacking in Oak Park a day earlier.

Members of CPD's Vehicle Hijacking Task Force Team were trying to stop the vehicle around 10:14 p.m. when the boy got out of the car and ran in the 800 block of North Cicero Avenue, police said.

Police Supt. David Brown, during a brief media availability Thursday evening, said the fleeing teenager turned toward the officer, and the officer fired their weapon.

No shots were fired at the officer, Brown said.

Brown said he did not know where on his body the child was hit. The superintendent also wouldn’t say how many rounds were fired or whether the boy had his hands up.

No information is being released on the officer who fired the shot, Brown said.

Brown declined to offer any clear defense of the officer, telling reporters, "I’m not going to testify for the officer. No, the officer needs to write his own statement."

Reacting to video showing police dragging the boy after he was shot, Brown said officers moved the boy over concerns gunfire may have struck gas pumps that could have "burst into flames."

Officers rendered aid to the boy at the scene. He remains in serious but stable condition at Stroger, where he is being held in custody "for the stolen car," Brown said. He did not elaborate and no charges have been announced.


The Civilian Office of Police Accountability said the officer's body camera was activated during the shooting. They also possess third-party and POD video of the incident. But because the shooting involves a juvenile, COPA said it is prohibited by law from making the video public under a city policy that requires most video be released within 60 days.

The Honda Accord was initially stolen Monday night after it was left running in the 100 block of West Randolph Street, Brown said. It was later used in a carjacking the following night in Oak Park, when someone in a black face mask stole a Honda CR-V left running with a 3-year-old inside near Lake Street and Oak Park Avenue, according to Brown.

The boy’s mother grabbed onto the SUV and was dragged to the ground, breaking her clavicle. The 3-year-old was found unharmed about 15 minutes later in the car, which had been abandoned in the 200 block of Madison Street, Oak Park police said.

The carjacker was seen getting into the other Honda, which Brown said set off automatic license plate readers in Chicago throughout Wednesday and came under surveillance of a police helicopter.

According to radio traffic, the helicopter pilot and a dispatcher repeatedly asked whether any officers on the ground were pursuing the car. There is some confusion as officers close in and a 10-1 is called, code for officer in distress.

A dispatcher at first says "shots fired at the police," but then says "shots fired by the police" as officers chased a suspect from the car. But as Brown and others later confirmed, there was no gunfire at officers.

Brown said the wounded boy appeared to be involved in the Monday and Tuesday incidents as well, but offered no details.

As is routine, the officer who opened fire will be placed on administrative duties for 30 days as COPA investigates.

The agency said it has no plans to publicly release any of the video it has received about the case, despite the lingering questions, saying it is prohibited by state law. COPA had also cited state law when it initially refused to release video of a Chicago police officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo as he ran from police in Little Village more than a year ago.

But days later, the agency’s general counsel concluded that the law did not bar publication of body-worn and third-party video footage the agency has obtained to date. The video was released and footage showed Adam dropping a gun a second before the officer opened fire.

It was not clear why COPA will not release the latest video, though police records involving juveniles are generally kept from the public.

Another question raised by the shooting is the department’s policy on foot chases and whether the officers followed it. The department revised its foot pursuit policy amid backlash from the fatal police shootings of Adam and, days later, of 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez.

The revised policy, unveiled earlier this year, emphasizes the inherent danger of foot chases and prohibits officers from starting them for minor offenses such as traffic stops. The policy also expands police supervisors’ role in ensuring proper guidance and communication when a pursuit begins.

Brown said COPA’s investigation will determine whether Wednesday’s chase was within that policy.

Brown said he wouldn’t compare Wednesday’s shooting to the killing of Adam. "It’s really important to take this as a separate standalone case and not begin making generalizations that can be conflated with this case," he said.

Sun-Times Media Wire and Associated Press contributed to this report.