Videos of Cedrick Chatman Shooting Death Show Teen Was Fleeing, Lawyers Say

Chicago officials released videos Thursday showing the fatal shooting of the black teen by a white police officer.

Cedrick Chatman
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Chicago has released more videos of a fatal police-involved shooting, this time showing the shooting death of black teen Cedrick Chatman, the Chicago Tribune reports

Lawyers for the 17-year-old’s family say that the videos—captured from a police surveillance camera as well as cameras outside a convenience store—show that the teen was running from police and therefore contradict police statements.

As the report notes, statements from authorities claim that Cedrick turned and pointed a dark object at the police as he ran, prompting Officer Kevin Fry, who is white, to shoot out of fear for his life and that of his partner. That object, the Tribune notes, turned out to be a black iPhone box.

The videos in this case, however, are dark and low-quality and show only a distant view of the shooting. The Tribune notes that the various angles clearly show that the young man was running away, but it is hard to tell, because of shadows cast from buildings, whether he turned toward the officers before he was shot. 

On Jan. 7, 2013, Cedrick, a carjacking suspect, was seen in footage getting out of a car and running away from officers, who followed in pursuit. Fry fired four shots, hitting the teen in his side. The officer’s partner, Officer Lou Toth, then handcuffed Cedrick’s unmoving body and put his foot in the young man’s back while waiting for paramedics. 

Cedrick’s case has been compared to that of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, since both cases involve a white Chicago police officer and a black suspect. However, although Laquan’s shooter, Officer Jason Van Dyke, has been charged, the city’s Independent Police Review Authority concluded that Fry’s and Toth’s actions were justified. Neither officer was disciplined, and both are still on active street duty.

Lorenzo Davis, the IPRA supervisor who led the probe into Cedrick’s case, disagreed with the agency’s decision, and last year he filed a federal lawsuit claiming that he was fired for concluding that police officers involved in several shootings—including Cedrick’s—were not justified in their use of lethal force. 

“Cedrick was just running as the shots were fired,” Davis said. “You’re taught that deadly force is a last resort and that you should do everything in your power to apprehend the person before you use deadly force.”

The city of Chicago had been fighting the release of the videos, but on Wednesday it abruptly dropped its opposition, much to the irritation of U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman, who called the sudden change of heart “irresponsible.” 

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