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Chicago police body camera footage shows officer shoot 13-year-old in South Austin

CBS Chicago 7/21/2022 Marissa Parra

CHICAGO (CBS)-- Body camera footage showing a Chicago police officer shoot a 13-year-old boy during a foot chase  in the South Austin neighborhood has been released.

The shooting took place in May in the South Austin neighborhood. Chicago police had been following the car the teen was in after Oak Park police said the car was tied to a carjacking in Oak Park the day before on May 17.

In that incident, police said carjackers took off with a 3-year-old in the back seat.

When license plate readers tipped off CPD, they followed the car and the 13-year-old jumped out, police said.

From what was released to CBS 2, the body camera footage from the officer who allegedly fired the shots does not appear to begin until after the shooting occurred. 

That officer's attorney has acknowledged he didn't have his camera turned on until after the shooting. The attorney said it wasn't intentional, calling it a "high stress situation."

Body camera video released in police shooting of 13-year-old boy in South Austin 06:11 © Provided by CBS Chicago Body camera video released in police shooting of 13-year-old boy in South Austin 06:11

In body camera footage from other officers involved in the chase, you can see officers chasing the 13-year-old at the intersection of Chicago and Cicero avenues, running at a full sprint toward the gas pumps at a Marathon gas station, followed closely by the sound of multiple gunshots.

In the span of less than a second, it appears the teen starts to turn, with his arms slightly raised, before he collapses to the ground.

You can hear an officer saying "cell phone, it's a f***ing cell phone. Secure the area."

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability had previously said they wouldn't release the video since it involves a juvenile. Instead, COPA released the video to the family. 

The mother of the 13-year-old boy is suing the city, claiming her son was unarmed and had raised his hands to surrender when he was shot.

The suit claims the boy was unarmed and obeying commands, and yet was still shot in the back.

"He heard a command to put his hands up. The young boy put his hands up. And without cause or provocation, he was shot in the back by the officer," Stroth said. "And that young man sustained serious life changing injuries and as of this point, he is paralyzed from the waist down." 

The mother is also demanding that video of the incident be released to the public.

The lawsuit, which identifies the boy only as "A.G.," said the shooting is proof that there is a "widespread pattern and practice of using excessive force, including deadly force, against African Americans" within the Chicago Police Department. The lawsuit called the seventh grader the latest victim of the Chicago Police Department's "systemic failures."

New video shows police shooting 13-year-old in South Austin 02:50 © Provided by CBS Chicago New video shows police shooting 13-year-old in South Austin 02:50

A statement from the family attorney said the boy is paralyzed from the waist down, and is home from the hospital. His family does not want to share his name.

Attorney Andrew Stroth, representing the family, released the following statement: 

"The video shows an unarmed 13 year old unjustifiably shot in the back by a Chicago police officer," Stroth said. "How many Black individuals need to be shot before the City of Chicago will develop and monitor a foot pursuit policy that values the sanctity of life?"

Stroth said the officer "did not follow policy. He did not activate his bodyworn camera."

The family's attorney also noted, although police have said the car the teen was in was linked to a carjacking, the boy has not been charged.

A.G.'s mother, Cierra Corbitt, filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the officer who shot him. The officer is not identified in the lawsuit, which refers to him only as John Doe Officer.

CBS 2 is not naming the officer involved because he has not been charged, but in a statement, his attorney said the officer believed he saw the 13-year-old holding a gun in his hand when he turned towards officers during the chase, and "had to make a split-second decision, as he had no cover and no concealment."

"He discharged his service weapon to stop the threat," the officer's attorney said.

The officer's attorney acknowledged that the object in the boy's hand turned out to be a cell phone, not a gun, but insisted the officer was justified in shooting, and believes "we can defend this position before any court or tribunal."

"This young man could have simply followed the lawful orders of Chicago Police Officers and this would have turned out different," the officer's attorney said.

The incident is still under investigation, and there were at least eight different videos released, including body cameras from five different officers.

CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller explained how the body camera footage could affect the family's lawsuit and the COPA investigation.

"They're asking for lots and lots of money to take care of this young man for the rest of his life. They're asking for damages with respect to his care. He's getting nursing care 24/7 from today to the day he dies; pain and suffering, medical bills, all those things are being asked for," Miller said. "What's interesting is they're also asking for punitive damages against the individual officer, saying that he acted willful and wantonly in firing a gun and hitting this kid in the back."

Miller said, if any punitive damages are awarded against the officer, that would not be paid by the city, but the officer himself.

Miller said, from the video that has been released, it will be difficult for the officer to prove he was justified in shooting the boy.

"This is a shooting that's very difficult to justify in any manner whatsoever. The young man was unarmed. He was running away, but he turned. He puts his hands up. Is there a reason why this officer had to fire a gun? Was the officer justified in shooting? Was he acting in self-defense? This video that you have today, I think, when I look at it, I can't say at all that this was a justifiable shooting, because what he saw, which was portrayed on this video, doesn't establish that," Miller said.

Meanwhile, a new and long-awaited foot pursuit policy is going into place for CPD at the end of August - a policy that means officers can't just chase someone because they ran away. Officers have to believe a person is committing or committed specific crimes.

Police experts we consulted on how the new foot pursuit policy would apply in this incident told us they weren't comfortable speaking about the policy and this case yet, at this point, before the policy has been implemented.

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