A 25-year-old Indianapolis man, who was in Chicago for his cousin’s funeral, was killed Saturday afternoon by an off-duty police officer in the city’s predominantly Irish-Catholic Mount Greenwood neighborhood, according to reports.
Joshua Beal’s name was trending on social media Sunday morning with a ubiquitous hashtag in front of it. Police say that the officer was “fired upon and returned fire,” but Beal’s family disputes this.
ABC7 Chicago reports that according to police, the shooting occurred after a vehicle leaving funeral services at a nearby cemetery stopped in traffic in front of a Chicago firehouse. An off-duty firefighter told the driver that they were illegally blocking the fire lane. The occupants exited the vehicle, and a verbal and physical altercation ensued, police said. An off-duty Chicago police officer was inside a nearby business and came to “assist” the firefighter.
Another Chicago police officer—a sergeant—who was driving to work reportedly stopped when he observed a man with a firearm in his hands. After the man “failed to drop his weapon, shots were fired, striking the individual multiple times,” police said. The sergeant was the shooter.
Yet Beal’s family had a different version of events.
“Chicago police gunned my baby down like a viscous [sic] animal,” said Tiffaney Boxley, Beal’s mother, to ABC7. “They shot him twice in the back and three times in his front.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Cordney Boxley, 23, who identified herself as Beal’s sister, said she was driving in the funeral procession behind her 17-year-old sister, who was behind the wheel of another car.
The relatives along with others in the caravan were headed to Southwest Memorial Chapel after burying their cousin Marcus Washington, she said.
Suddenly, Boxley said, a car cut her off and then tried to run her 17-year-old sister off the road. She said her family as well as the motorist who had cut her off—who she believed was a Chicago police officer—stopped and got out of their cars.
At some point the man pushed her female cousin to the ground and pulled a gun on her, pointing it at her face, according to Boxley.
Boxley said many of the men in the family began walking toward the man, confronting him.
She said the man got inside his car but exited again and “he just started shooting,’’ hitting the windshield of a car containing Beal, who had pulled his gun when he saw the man holding a gun on their cousin. Boxley said that Beal legally owned the gun and did not fire it.
Boxley said the man pulled Beal out of his front passenger seat and began shooting him.
“I was hoping my brother wasn’t dead,’’ said Boxley.
Beal’s mother said he was a father to two children, a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, and that his fiancee was a stay-at-home mother. Beal, who was a pallbearer at Washington’s funeral, lived in Indianapolis and was in town for the services.
“This is what CPD do. They tear our families apart over and over again. They have no consideration for life,” Tiffaney Boxley said to ABC7.
Chicago DNAInfo reports that a local chapter of Black Lives Matter came to the predominantly Irish-Catholic neighborhood to support the family after the news broke and were confronted by a group yelling racial epithets, telling them to get out of their neighborhood and holding a “Blue Lives Matter” banner.
Police told the Chicago Tribune they were not sure if Beal fired his weapon.
The Independent Police Review Authority is investigating the incident, and the officers involved will be placed on administrative duties for 30 days, police said.