CHICAGO (CBS) — Body camera video was released showing a Chicago police officerin May, and the boy’s family is searching for answers.
CBS 2 investigator Megan Hickey dug into the story of the officer who fired the shots.
The officer’s attorney admitted that he didn’t turn on his camera until after the shooting on Cicero and Chicago Avenues in the South Austin neighborhood. The lawyer said it was unintentional.
Hickey discovered that this was not the first time the officer failed to turn on his body camera.
The officer was involved in another incident about a year ago where police records show he returned fire during a traffic stop at West Garfield Park.
But this body camera video in this case is also incomplete – showing only the aftermath of the shooting.
On June 16, 2021, officers stopped a sedan in an alley in the 300 block of South Kilbourn Avenue after noticing the occupants were not wearing seat belts.
But then the CPD said an officer returned fire after shots were fired at officers. No one was hit.
During the June 2021 incident, the Civilian Police Accountability Office released body camera video that it identified as being from the camera worn by the officer who fired the shots. The video does not visibly resume until after the shots have been fired.
The officer identified in the use of force reports is the same officer who was identified as the one who shot and seriously injured the 13-year-old boy on May 18 this year.
We do not name the officer involved in these incidents because he has not been charged and is not named in a trial.
Andrew Stroth, the 13-year-old boy’s family lawyer, said the boy was surrendering when the officer shot him.
Chicago police had tracked the car the teenager was in after Oak Park police said the car was linked to a carjacking in Oak Park the day before May 17.
In that incident, police say the carjackers took off with a 3-year-old child in the back seat.
When license plate readers informed the CPD, they followed the car and the 13-year-old jumped, police said.
“He literally throws his hands up – and that’s when he gets shot,” Stroth said.
But again, the video of the actual shot from his point of view is missing.
The officer’s attorney told CBS 2 that in the most recent incident he “thought he pressed the button” to turn on the body camera and added, “It was a high stress situation.” .
“The other officers activated their cameras,” Stroth said.
Police expert David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said the fact that the officer’s body camera was turned off was a problem.
“This video is going to be crucial, and the fact that it wasn’t turned on is a failure of the accountability system that the cameras were meant to bring to us,” he said.
Harris works with departments to improve their policies. He says the missing video makes it much more difficult to assess the officer’s actions.
Making it easier to assess officer actions is one of the reasons the DPC invests so much time and money in the camera program. That program cost taxpayers more than $16 million in 2019, according to data obtained by CBS 2 investigators.
“You know, police officers are human beings,” Harris said. “Two mistakes? You’re starting to wonder – and especially I’m starting to wonder if anything was done after the first incident to reinforce the need to turn on that camera when needed.”
Hickey contacted COPA about this 2021 incident and whether or not it issued any recommendations. But a spokesperson said the matter was still under investigation more than a year later – so no recommendations have yet been issued.