Another version of this story does not include graphic video of the incident. To read this story without seeing the video, click here.
CHICAGO — The city’s police watchdog released video Wednesday morning that shows an officer shooting 24-year-old Reginald Clay Jr. after a brief chase in April.
The shooting on the West Side has been highly controversial, as Clay’s family has said the Police Department’s version of the story has not lined up with reality.
Police officials have not answered questions about why officers approached Clay or why an officer chased him. The agency’s chase policy has come under intense scrutiny in recent years, particularly after an officer shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo during a brief chase in 2021 in Little Village.
The shooting happened about 10 a.m. April 15 in the 3800 block of West Flournoy Street.
The first two minutes of the video do not have audio. They show the officer chased Clay as he tried to walk away, and the shooting happened just seconds after the officer got to the scene.
The body-camera video shows an officer pulling up to the block and getting out of his car. Clay can be seen slowly walking away at the same time. The officer almost immediately runs after Clay, who then begins to run and goes down a gangway.
The officer follows Clay into a yard and around the side of a home into another gangway, which comes to a dead end. The officer pulls out his gun as Clay turns toward him in the gangway, video shows.
The officer lifts his gun and points it at Clay, who begins to run toward the officer. Clay’s hand is in his right pocket or waistband, and he pulls out a handgun with his right hand. He switches the gun to his left hand and is gripping the barrel of the gun as the officer shoots, the video shows.
Clay crumples to the ground, bleeding, as another officer comes into view. That officer points a gun at Clay, who briefly sits up and raises his bloody hands, showing he is not holding anything.
The audio then begins on the video. Officers scream, “Shots fired! Shots fired! F—. F—. Get an ambulance over here.”
Two officers stand by Clay, calling for an ambulance and medical care, while Clay bleeds on the gangway and people can be heard screaming and are seen coming into the yard.
WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC VIDEO:
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, his family has said.
Clay’s family saw the video Tuesday night — before it was publicly released — and said they think Clay was trying to drop his gun when an officer shot him.
RELATED: Reginald Clay Jr.’s Family Says Video Shows He Did Not Point Gun Before He Was Fatally Shot By Cops
Clay’s family filed a lawsuit last month, saying 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.
Clay’s family and friends said Tuesday 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.”
At a news conference the day of the shooting, Deputy Chief Rahman Muhammad said officers were patrolling the area because a a reputed gang member had been killed in the neighborhood the week before.
The officers spotted several people in the area, one of whom was leaning into a car, Muhammad said April 15.
Officers got out of their car and went up to the man, who ran away through a gangway, police said. Clay “turned toward an officer with a firearm,” and the officer shot him, police said April 15.
“This is a tragic incident that occurred,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad would not say why police approached Clay despite reporters asking multiple times.
The officers involved were place on routine administrative duties after the shooting, according to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. Agency representatives have said a gun was found at the scene.
“COPA is committed to transparency and expedited the release of materials related to this incident due to significant public interest,” Ephraim Eaddy, the agency’s first deputy chief administrator, said in a statement Wednesday. “As a part of the investigation, COPA will review the initial interaction, foot pursuit, body worn activation and subsequent use of deadly force as well as all other matters to determine if the officers’ actions were in accordance with Department policy and training.”
Anyone with information about the shooting can contact the Civilian Office of Police Accountability at 312-746-3609.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.