CHICAGO — A newly released video shows an off-duty Chicago Police officer shooting an unarmed teenager with developmental disabilities in 2017, a shooting the ACLU said was unjustified.
The shooting happened about 5 a.m. on Aug. 13, 2017, in the 11100 block of South Hermosa Avenue near Morgan Park High School in the Morgan Park neighborhood. The video was released Tuesday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. That agency, called COPA, investigates shootings by police.
The video shows the teen running and then stopping and standing on a sidewalk as a car drives up. The driver stops and the person takes several steps toward the car, and then shots ring out.
The person turns and runs away. A man appears to get out of the car and walk after the person, but then he returns to his car and drives.
The officer was identified as Sgt. Khalil Muhammad. He has been on desk duty since the shooting. Muhammad has had eight complaints filed against him, according to data from the Invisible Institute.
The victim, 18-year-old Ricky Hayes, has disabilities and became lost that night, according to a statement from the ACLU of Illinois. Hayes was going to ask the officer for help, but the officer chased him and shot him while sitting in his car, the ACLU said.
“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,” Karen Sheley, director of the ACLU’s Police Practices Project, said in the statement.
Sheley was also critical of the timing of the video’s release, saying there had been a “long delay.”
“For too long, the Chicago Police Department has suspended transparency for the sake of politics,” Sheley said. “This kind of ‘code of silence’ behavior should have ended with the release of the video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald.”
Hayes has filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against the City of Chicago. The suit says he “functions at the cognitive level of a child, and has difficulty communicating. Ricky looks much younger than his age and his disabilities are immediately recognizable.”
Hayes snuck out of his home that morning, and his caretaker called 911 after realizing he was gone, according to the lawsuit. The caretaker filled out a missing person report at 2 a.m. that morning, and told police of Hayes’ disabilities, the suit said.
“After sneaking out of the house, Ricky skipped and ran around his neighborhood, often singing to himself. He was dressed in shorts, a short sleeve shirt and sneakers,” the suit said. “Ricky was unarmed and did not engage in any criminal activity. Multiple surveillance cameras captured Ricky harmlessly roaming around his neighborhood.”
Muhammad spotted Hayes, and “drove his truck up onto the sidewalk only a few feet from Ricky. Ricky was reasonably scared by Officer Muhammad’s aggressive approach, and ran away. Officer Muhammad continued to chase Ricky in his truck,” according to the suit.
Hayes stopped in front of a home in the 10900 block of South Hermosa, and Muhammad pulled up, according to the suit.
That’s where the shooting took place. The suit says: “When Officer Muhammad opened fire, Ricky was standing almost perfectly still, facing Officer Muhammad’s truck, with his hands at his sides. Ricky did not make any aggressive moves toward Officer Muhammad.”