Suit: Boy, 13, Was Surrendering When Chicago Cops Shot Him

Family has sued over May 18 incident, which may leave the teen permanently paralyzed
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 27, 2022 10:42 AM CDT
Suit: Boy, 13, Had Hands Up When Chicago Cops Shot Him
A broken fence is left at a gas station in the 800 block of North Cicero Avenue on Thursday, May 19, 2022, where Chicago police shot a 13-year-old carjacking suspect.   (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune via AP)

A 13-year-old boy shot in the back by a Chicago police officer on May 18 was unarmed and had his arms raised to surrender when he was hit by the bullet, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday. The bullet severely damaged part of the Black teenager’s spine, possibly rendering him permanently paralyzed, the filing in Chicago's US District Court says, per the AP. Police have said previously that the boy was in a car suspected of involvement in a carjacking in a suburb the day before and that he jumped out and started running. He hasn’t been charged.

The excessive force lawsuit says the seventh-grader, who had been a passenger, was complying with orders from officers running behind him through the grounds of a West Side gas station and screaming for him to put up his hands. The 31-page filing says the boy did not have a weapon and did nothing to make the officer believe he was armed or a danger to anyone. It adds that the use of use of force “was not objectively reasonable” and “was neither necessary nor proportional.” The officer’s name hasn't been released and he is referred to as John Doe Officer in the filing. He was relieved of his police powers last week.

The lawsuit names Doe and the city of Chicago as defendants and seeks unspecified damages for, among other things, mental anguish and future caretaking expenses. Police Supt. David Brown said last week that the fleeing teenager turned toward the officer and the officer fired. No weapon was found at the scene, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the agency that investigates officer shootings, confirmed last week. COPA said it had footage from the officer’s body-worn camera but couldn’t release it because the boy is a minor.

Thursday’s filing says the officer knew or should have known that safer alternatives to a foot pursuit were available. Among them, it says, was to establish a perimeter to contain the boy, then eventually arrest him. At least one police helicopter was overhead and other officers and patrol cars were in the area, homing in on the boy, it says. The shooting is the latest to put a spotlight on the Chicago Police Department’s history of aggressive pursuit practices, which the city had vowed to change. Reform advocates say a still-inadequate pursuit policy and poor training has too often led officers to chase and shoot suspects who posed no threat. Police have said they are finalizing a permanent policy, but one was still not in place. (Read more police shooting stories.)

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