CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago’s Police Department has asked a city board to make a final decision on the chief’s recommendation to fire two officers who shot at a stolen car two years ago, an incident that was captured on video.
The submission of written charges to the Chicago Police Board sets in motion a formal hearing process. Board spokesman Max Caproni said Tuesday that such written charges result in a hearing within about five months and a decision within nine months.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson determined earlier this year that the officers shouldn’t have opened fire on the stolen Jaguar during a chase that ended with the 18-year-old unarmed driver being shot in the back by another officer after he jumped from the vehicle and ran.
The chase and the fatal shooting of black teenager Paul O’Neal was a significant event in the history of the city’s police force. The dashcam and body camera video of the 2016 incident was the first footage of a fatal police shooting to be released under what was then a new policy that called for such material to be made public within 60 days.
That policy was part of a wider effort to restore public confidence in the wake of the city’s ultimately unsuccessful legal fight to keep private the now-famous video of the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald by white officer, Jason Van Dyke.
That video, which shows Van Dyke shoot the teen 16 times as he veered away from the officer, helped convince a jury to find Van Dyke guilty earlier this month of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He is awaiting sentencing.
The videos of the July 28, 2016 chase that the police department reviewed before Johnson recommended that Officers Michael Coughlin Jr. and Jose Torres be fired were also analyzed by the Independent Police Review Board (IPRA). It also recommended the two be fired because their shots, none of which struck O’Neal, put the lives of other officers and bystanders at risk.
None of the videos show Officer Jose Diaz shooting O’Neal in the back after he jumped from the stolen car and ran through the backyard of a home on the city’s South Side. IPRA determined the shooting was justified because Diaz believed O’Neal had a gun and had fired at police. However, it recommended Diaz be suspended for six months because he kicked the teen as he lay mortally wounded on the ground and because Diaz did not activate his bodycam. Diaz is appealing that suspension.
Police department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that Coughlin and Torres remain suspended without pay.
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