None of the nine videos show the suspected car thief getting shot in the back. Moments later, when Paul O’Neal is on the ground, blood soaking through his T-shirt, an officer can be heard angrily accusing him of firing at police. Another officer asks, “They shot at us too, right?” suggesting police believed they had been fired upon and that they did not know how many suspects were present.
No gun was recovered from the scene.
Before the gunfire broke out, the 18-year-old suspect sideswiped one squad car and then smashed into another.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson stripped three of the officers of their police powers after a preliminary determination concluded they had violated department policy in the July 28 shooting. Authorities have not said specifically what policy was broken.
The head of the Independent Police Review Authority, the agency that investigates Chicago police misconduct, called the footage “shocking and disturbing.”
The moment of the fatal shooting isn’t seen on any of the videos released Friday because the officer’s body camera was not recording at the time, police said.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that the department and the police review authority were trying to determine why the body camera was not working. He said it is likely because the officer was unfamiliar with how to properly use the camera he only received or because the camera malfunctioned.
“We don’t believe there was any intentional misconduct with body cameras,” he said.
Attorney Michael Oppenheimer, who represents O’Neal’s family, said the video showed officers taking “street justice into their own hands.”
Oppenheimer said O’Neal’s family viewed the video Friday morning and were so distraught that they left without speaking to the media.
The recording catches the stolen car being pursued by officers as it blows through a stop sign.
More than a half-dozen officers are seen racing between houses into backyards in pursuit of the person who fled from the car. One officer needs help scaling a wooden gate. An officer wearing a body camera is unable to climb over and walks around to the rear of another home where the suspect is on the ground.
One officer can be heard saying, “I shot. I don’t know who was shooting in the alley.”
The president of the Chicago police union complained about the release of the videos, saying 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.”