COPA Releases Footage of Off-Duty Officer Shooting Unarmed Teen

Video: Surveillance footage released Tuesday shows the shooting of an 18-year-old by an off-duty police officer in 2017. 

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Newly released surveillance footage shows an off-duty Chicago police officer shooting and wounding an unarmed, developmentally disabled teen as he stood in the front yard of a Far South Side home late last summer.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) on Tuesday afternoon released security footage from a Morgan Park neighborhood home showing an 18-year-old black male being shot by CPD Officer Khalil Muhammad in August 2017.

“Officer Muhammad simply shot (the teen) multiple times while he stood far away posing no threat,” the teen’s attorneys wrote in an August 2018 civil lawsuit filed against Muhammad and the city of Chicago, which describes the officers’ actions as “extreme and outrageous.”

COPA published several surveillence videos relating to the shooting Tuesday afternoon. In one that appears to be taken from the front porch of a nearby home, the teen can be seen running by before coming to a stop on a sidewalk. A vehicle pulls up and as the teen takes a couple steps in its direction, two gunshots are heard and the teen takes off running in the opposite direction. Muhammad then exits his vehicle briefly and walks in the direction the teen went before returning to his vehicle and driving off.

The video release was first reported by independent journalist Jamie Kalven.

Muhammad has been with the police department since 2000 and has not faced criminal charges stemming from the incident. The teen, who is autistic, survived the shooting with “relatively minor” injuries to his chest and arm, according to Kalven, who reported it’s unclear if he was struck by multiple bullets or injured multiple times by a single bullet.

But his civil complaint states the teen also suffered “severe emotional distress” that has required hospitalization.

According to the complaint, the teen was “harmlessly skipping and running around his neighborhood” around 5 a.m. on Aug. 13, 2017 when Muhammad – who was off-duty – spotted him and began “aggressively chas(ing)” him using his personal truck.

“Officer Muhammad drove his truck up onto the sidewalk only a few feet from (the teen),” the complaint states. “(The teen) was reasonably scared by Officer Muhammad’s aggressive approach, and ran away.”

The teen came to a stop in a nearby yard behind Morgan Park High School and Muhammad pulled over in the street about 20 feet away when he allegedly began firing his Glock 19 service weapon from the front seat of his truck, striking the teen “multiple times.”

Muhammad called 911 and requested an ambulance, saying he was forced to shoot because the teen had “walked up” on his car and tried to pull a firearm, according to a recording of the call released Tuesday by Kalven.

But no gun was ever recovered.

“He was unarmed and not engaged in any criminal activity,” the complaint states. “Officer Muhammad attacked (the teen). His conduct was unjustified and a violation of the law.”

The teen was born with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to the complaint, and functions “at the cognitive level of a child.” He was reported as a missing person hours before the shooting by his foster mother after sneaking out of his home.

The shooting occurred more than a year ago and COPA attributed the delay in release of the videos to “strict prohibitions” within the Juvenile Court Act and the research necessary to ensure the release did not violate state law.

“COPA reiterates its commitment to transparency and continues in its efforts to build public trust while conducting fair and objective investigations in a timely and transparent manner,” COPA said in a statement.

A day after the shooting, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson described the teen as being “elusive and unresponsive” at the scene, saying the situation “escalated in some way,” which led to the shooting.

The teen’s attorneys have called that narrative “false.”

“Even though the CPD has videos of the events that took place that morning, the CPD and City have not found the shooting to be unjustified,” the complaint states, “and, upon information and belief, Officer Muhammad is still a member of the Chicago police force.”

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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