Editor’s note: This story contains descriptions and some images related to a police shooting. To view the videos, click here.
HYDE PARK — The University of Chicago released body camera and surveillance footage Wednesday of a university police officer shooting and critically wounding a man the day prior, though some details about how the shooting occurred remain unclear.
A UChicago Police Department officer shot an unidentified man around 11:44 a.m. Tuesday near 53rd Street and Woodlawn Avenue in Hyde Park. The officer had stopped to investigate reports of a person walking with a handgun, university officials said.
Officials released three videos of the shooting on the university’s website Wednesday afternoon: One showing the view from the officer’s body-worn camera, and two taken from surveillance footage at the nearby Kimbark Plaza.
To view the videos, click here.
It’s unclear what led up to the shooting or who fired the first shot from the 54-second body camera video.
The video starts just after 11:44 a.m. and shows the officer standing on a porch with his gun at his side. As he looks down Woodlawn Avenue, he yells “Get on the ground!” twice, and points the gun.
Then three gunshots are heard. The footage does not clearly show who is firing but the body cam shows at least one shell casing falling to the ground near the officer as he steps back behind the building wall.
Moments later, the officer moves to his left and points his weapon again at the man, who can been seen walking up the street toward the officer. In still images of the video, the man appears to be grasping something with both his hands, then raising his arms toward officer.
The officer yells, “Drop it!” and quickly fires twice. The man appears to stagger backward as the officer comes down the stairs and takes cover behind a car.
The officer yells, “Get on the ground!” three times as he moves closer to the car, pointing his weapon. The man cannot be seen from the footage. Three more shots are heard as the officer calls for a dispatcher to send help. The officer then appears to fire another shot before telling the dispatcher he’s at 53rd and Woodlawn.
As the officer moves to his right, he yells at the man to stay down. The footage shows the man lying on a grassy patch between the street and sidewalk across from the officer.
At least nine gunshots in total are heard during the body camera footage.
“Send an ambulance; he’s on the ground, he’s hit at least two times. Officer-involved shooting,” the officer — who has not been identified — tells a dispatcher before the video ends.
Eric Heath, the university’s associate vice president for safety and security, said Tuesday the man and the officer “exchanged shots.”
On Wednesday, Heath said the man fired shots, so the officer shot back and struck the man. The man continued approaching the officer with his gun drawn, so the officer shot the person again, Heath said.
The first Kimbark Plaza surveillance video, which is 44 seconds long, faces north along Woodlawn Avenue and has no audio. It begins with two people walking down the sidewalk.
Around the 11:42:52 a.m. mark, one person — the man who was shot, according to university officials — turns to face the other and raises their right arm before jogging off-screen, appearing to hold something in their right hand.
Officials allege the man raised a handgun in the air and appeared to fire.
An employee at Kimbark Beverage Shoppe, located in Kimbark Plaza, told the Sun-Times Tuesday people ran into the store saying they saw “a guy waving a gun” before shooting erupted.
The second surveillance video is 61 seconds, and also has no audio. It faces south along Woodlawn Avenue, showing the 53rd and Woodlawn intersection.
At about 11:44:05 a.m. on the footage, a person walks into Woodlawn Avenue south of the intersection. About 13 seconds later, the person falls to the ground and gets back up.
At about 11:44:36 a.m. on the footage, the person appears to fall over into the snow near the sidewalk. The person is in a similar position as the man seen shot by the officer at the end of the body camera footage.
Two cars also can be seen idling near the end of the block as the shooting occurs. One drives away quickly while the second slowly moves toward the intersection.
The man, who was shot several times, was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center in critical condition, a fire department spokesperson said Tuesday. No one else was reported injured.
Unconfirmed police scanner audio recorded by CrimeIsDown.com and first reported by The TRiiBE indicates the man may have been experiencing a mental health episode as he “[waved] a gun” near 53rd and Woodlawn.
A dispatcher mentioned the man’s perceived mental state several times — including one mention less than a minute before the dispatcher reported “he is shooting at the police who are returning fire.”
The Chicago Police Department and the university are investigating, and university officials will share more information as it becomes available, Heath said. The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigations.
In 2018, a UChicago police officer shot student Charles “Soji” Thomas after he reportedly smashed windows and refused to drop a tent stake during a mental health episode.
Students have criticized the frequency at which Black people are stopped by UChicago’s private police force, as well as the department’s extensive patrol area, which goes far beyond the university’s central campus.
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