AUSTIN — Investigators have released video from when a Chicago police officer shot an unarmed seventh-grader in May on the West Side, providing the footage only to the boy’s family via a public records request.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability announced Thursday officials have turned over videos from the May 18 shooting to the 13-year-old boy’s family, a spokesperson said.
The shooting occurred about 10:30 p.m. May 18 in the 800 block of North Cicero Avenue.
The teen was a passenger in a stolen Honda Accord officers had been tracking because they believed it was involved in a carjacking in suburban Oak Park earlier that week, police said at the time.
When officers closed in on the car, the 13-year-old got out and ran through a gas station parking lot, where an officer shot him once, police said. The driver drove away, and the car was found abandoned in Garfield Park, police said.
The seventh-grader was left with serious wounds, including damage to his spinal cord, fractured vertebrae and broken ribs, according to a lawsuit the boy’s family filed against police.
At the time of the shooting, Supt. David Brown said the boy turned toward police before the officer shot him, but it was unclear whether he was facing officers before he was shot based on surveillance video.
It’s unclear whether the footage will be made public. The police oversight agency has said it is barred from releasing footage under the Juvenile Court Act, although officials did release videos of an officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo in 2021 — but only amid intense public pressure.
The boy’s mother, Cierra Corbitt, and her attorneys did not respond to requests for comment Thursday, but they previously said they want the videos released.
“We 100 percent want the video made public,” the family’s attorney, Andrew Stroth, said in May. “Many times in this city, they have tried to hide behind the Juvenile [Court] Act. The spirit of that law is to protect the parents. But Mrs. Corbitt wants the video released so people can see what happened to her baby.”
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Others have pushed for the videos to be released, including Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), whose ward includes the area where the shooting occurred. Mitts said she has called on the oversight agency to release the video “since day one,” but her office “hasn’t been given any answers.”
When the police shoot someone, the footage must be released immediately in order to preserve the public’s trust in the government and in law enforcement, Mitts said.
“We have to see what happened with our own eyes,” Mitts said. “This is clearly a case where this young man did not even have a gun. He complied with the police commands, and they still shot him in the back.”
Legislators can change the law that would allow the oversight agency to release videos involving minors in certain situations to improve transparency, Chief Administrator Andrea Kersten said in a statement.
“… We see this as an opportunity to begin the conversation regarding amendments to this law to allow for increased transparency,” Kersten said. “We are open to discussions with the General Assembly and our city elected officials to give families of juveniles a voice when determining what materials may be released publicly by COPA.”
Corbitt sued the city and the officer involved on behalf of her son, saying the shooting was “wholly unjustified” and a continuation of the Police Department’s “sordid history of using excessive force.”
The seventh-grader “did not pose an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm” to the officer since he was unarmed and running away, according to the lawsuit. The boy complied with officers’ commands to stop and put his hands up, “but the officer still shot him — recklessly, callously, and wantonly — right through his back,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the officer violated the department’s use of force policy, which says the core principle is to get suspects to comply with police orders. The use of deadly force is also exclusively limited to “a last resort,” the lawsuit states.
“They had no reason to shoot my child,” Corbitt said. “He complied with them. All they had to do was grab him.”
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