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Reginald Clay Jr.’s Family Says Video Shows He Did Not Point Gun Before He Was Fatally Shot By Cops

Clay's family watched body camera footage Tuesday. Family said the Civilian Office of Police Accountability is expected to release video of the fatal West Side shooting Wednesday morning.

Family friend Yolanda Aarington speaking out after witnessing body cam footage of the fatal shooting of Reginald Clay Jr.
Trey Arline/Block Club Chicago
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UPDATE: A video of the shooting was released Wednesday morning. Read more here.

WEST GARFIELD PARK — The family of a 24-year-old West Side man killed by a police officer last month said police videos of the shooting do not show him pointing a gun at officers before he was fatally shot.

Reginald Clay Jr.’s family and Rabbi Michael Ben Yosef watched bodycam footage Tuesday of the April 15 shooting at the Civilian Office of Police Accountability headquarters, 1615 W. Chicago Ave. Yosef said the videos would be publicly released Wednesday morning.

Officials with the police oversight agency did not respond to a request for comment about releasing the footage.

Clay, an Amazon worker with a 3-year-old daughter, was meeting his friends on West Flournoy Street and South Independence Boulevard to attend a friend’s funeral.

Officers were patrolling the area after a reputed gang member was killed in the neighborhood, Deputy Chief Rahman Muhammad said at the time. They spotted several people in the area, one of whom was leaning into a car, Muhammad said.

Officers got out of their car and went up to Clay Jr., who ran away through a gangway, police said. Clay “turned toward an officer with a firearm,” and the officer shot him, police previously said.

Police officials have not answered questions about why officers approached Clay.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday evening, relatives and Yosef said the footage starts after officers already were running after Clay Jr., pursuing him through the gangway.

As Clay was running, the video shows he was holding the gun in his right hand, gripping it by the slide on the top, family said. Once Clay and the officers reached a dead end, Clay stopped and turned toward the officers, and one of the officers shot him, the family said.

Reginald Clay Sr. and other relatives said Clay Jr. was raising his hands to get rid of the weapon when they reached the dead end. The family did not say how many times he was shot.

At that point, the video shows Clay facing toward the officers with blood on his shirt and eventually the officers treating him for his wounds, the family said.

Family said they did not see Clay Jr. point a gun at the officers at any part of the footage.

“The video clearly shows he was running for his life,” Yosef said.

Because the footage starts while the chase was ongoing, it’s still unclear to the family what led to the chase. Clay Sr. and other family members said the audio was inaudible at times.

Clay Sr. said his son was running out of fear of the police.

“They murdered my boy, man, that’s hard to watch,” Clay Sr. said. “My heart was ripped out of my chest.”

Civilian Office of Police Accountability officials previously said officers chased Clay as he ran through one gangway, into a backyard and into a second gangway with a dead end, officials said. Clay turned run out of the gangway, toward the officers, at which point one of the officers shot him, officials said.

Officials with the police oversight agency did not say whether Clay raised or pointed a weapon at the officers. He had a gun, which was found at the scene, officials said. Clay Sr. and family friend Joanna Taylor said Clay Jr. had a valid FOID card for the weapon.

Credit: Natasha Mac-Dickson
Reginald Clay Jr., 24, was killed by Chicago police during a foot chase Saturday, April 15

Clay’s family filed a lawsuit last month, claiming the chase violated the city’s foot chase policy by claiming to not have a valid reason to pursue him. Clay ran away from officers “to avoid being hassled,” according to the suit.

The policy, which was implemented last year, states officers cannot chase someone simply fleeing the police without a justified reason, such as an unlawful use of weapon or domestic battery. 

The department’s foot chase police has been criticized in recent years, notably after officers shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez in separate chases just days apart in March 2021.

Despite the changes, critics have said it still widely allows police chases that can jeopardize the lives of suspects, bystanders, and even the officers themselves.

Clay’s family and friends said they want people to remember him as a charming, loving father who loved fashion.

“I know him and I know he would never point a gun at the police,” family friend Yolanda Aarington said. “We are already labeled a threat by the color of our skin. Black people are guilty until proven innocent.”

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