Video shows Chicago cop shooting unarmed black autistic teen

October 17, 2018 - 6:22 am

CHICAGO (AP) — Surveillance video released by a civilian oversight agency shows an off-duty Chicago police officer shooting and wounding an unarmed autistic black teenager in an incident the police department initially described as an armed confrontation.

The grainy video released Tuesday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability shows Sgt. Khalil Muhammad shooting 18-year-old Ricardo Hayes around 5 a.m. on Aug. 13, 2017. Hayes can be seen running along the sidewalk then stopping. Mohammed pulls up alongside, with parked cars between them, and gets out. Hayes takes a few steps toward him and Mohammed shoots the teen in the arm and chest. Hayes turns and runs, despite his wounds.

A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union says Hayes' caretaker had called police to say he had wandered away from home and that he is autistic.

"As a black teenager with disabilities, Ricky was at a heightened risk for police violence," Karen Sheley of the ACLU of Illinois said in a statement. "Thankfully, he survived — but he should never have been shot." Hayes, now 19, survived his injuries.

At the time, police officials described the incident as an armed confrontation, mirroring statements by police after the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in November 2014. Jason Van Dyke was convicted earlier this month of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the killing. Despite video evidence to the contrary, Van Dyke and other officers on the scene claimed McDonald was acting aggressively before the shooting.

The sergeant's call to 911 after he shot Hayes was among the audio files released.

"The guy, like, he was about to pull a gun. Walked up to the car, and I had to shoot," Muhammad told a Chicago Fire Department dispatcher.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson later said Hayes had no weapon.

"The video shows both that there was no justification for the officer to shoot him and that initial stories told by CPD officials about the shooting — that the 'encounter escalated' — were false," Sheley said.

In a statement, COPA said it delayed releasing the video and related material because of concerns about the legality of releasing of information related to wards of the state.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Tuesday that Muhammad is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the COPA investigation.