Chicago will pay a $3 million settlement to the family of a teenager shot and killed while fleeing police on a busy street, claiming he had a black object in his hand that made them fear for their lives.
The black object turned out to be an iPhone case.
And surveillance cameras do not show Cedric Chatman, 17, pointing the object at officers as he fled as police initially reported, although the videos are grainy.
Nevertheless, Chicago police officer Kevin Fry was found to have been justified in the shooting. But only after an investigator from the city’s Independent Police Review Authority was fired last year after finding the shooting unjustified.
The incident took place in January 2013 but video of the shooting was not released until January 2016 after a lengthy court battle.
It all started when Fry and his partner, Lou Touth, tried to pull over a Dodge Charger they suspected had been carjacked, prompting its driver, Chatman, to take off running.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times:
The tragedy unfolded on the afternoon of Jan. 7, 2013, after Chatman and two friends allegedly beat and robbed a man driving a silver Dodge Charger before Chatman alone took off in the victim’s car.
Toth and Fry recognized the car on 75th Street, records show, and Toth pulled the officers’ unmarked squad car next to and slightly ahead of the Charger at 75th and Jeffery. Then, the officers, wearing plainclothes but in clearly marked police vests, jumped out of their car with guns drawn.
Toth ran around the front of the Charger, while Fry ran around the rear, records show. But Chatman appeared to reach down and grab something, opened the door of the Charger and fled southeast across 75th. He ran between two parked cars and then west on the sidewalk. Toth was initially on his heels but fell behind, a federal judge has said.
Fry, who ran diagonally, claimed Chatman had a dark object in his right hand and turned his upper torso slightly to the right. He fired four shots at Chatman, records show. The teen was shot twice, his family’s lawyers have said.
The dark object turned out to be a black iPhone box.
Police say Akeem Clarke, 22, and Martel Odom, 23, were Chatman’s accomplishes in the carjacking, but they stayed behind as Chatman sped off in the stolen vehicle.
The two were initially charged with murder, because their actions led to the killing of Chatman, but those charges were eventually dropped.
However, they were each sentenced to 10 years in prison for robbery and unlawful vehicular invasion.
The settlement was agreed upon in June 2016, but was not approved until Monday December 12, 2016.
The city finally released the video in January after public pressure and outrage. They are posted below.
“We have to stand behind our officers,” said Chicago Alderman David Moore, who is on the voting committee.
“But we can’t keep allowing officers to cover up wrongdoing. These incidents keep happening. It has to stop.”
Brian Coffman who is the attorney for the Chatman family had this to say about the settlement:
“This will be another expensive lesson for the city. If they don’t change how they do things, well, there’s a bigger societal issue that needs to be discussed.”
This is the fifth settlement that officer Fry has been named in involving excessive force, false arrest and illegal searches, including one from 2008 where he shot an unarmed teen in the neck, then conspired with other officers to cover it up, resulting in a $99,000 settlement.
Furthermore, the city of Chicago as a whole has paid $500 million in police settlements over the last decade.