Bodycam Didn't Catch Cop Fatally Shooting Teen in Back: Chicago PD

'How convenient': attorney for Paul O'Neal's family
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2016 2:04 PM CDT
Bodycam Didn't Catch Cop Fatally Shooting Teen in Back: Chicago PD
Chicago police investigate a police-involved fatal shooting in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood on Friday.   (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune via AP)

(Newser) – A third cop at the scene of a fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen in Chicago last week was relieved of his policing powers after an autopsy found 18-year-old Paul O'Neal had been shot in the back and the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office ruled his death a homicide, the AP reports. But another puzzling question is now emerging regarding the Thursday night shooting, per the Chicago Tribune: why, despite the gathering of police body cameras and squad car dashcams, the shooting wasn't captured on camera. O'Neal was behind the wheel of a supposedly stolen Jaguar when he's said to have crashed the car into two police vehicles. Police sources say two officers fired at him while he was still in the Jaguar (a dashcam reportedly captured one of the cops during that shooting), but O'Neal soon took off running, with a third officer fast behind him. It was that officer who shot O'Neal, killing him, but his bodycam did not capture the shooting.

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Police don't think the officer who shot O'Neal failed to activate the camera purposely, saying the lack of recording could have been due to officer distraction, damage from the car crash, or the officer's own unfamiliarity with the camera. The three officers had only started using their body cameras about a week before the shooting, and the head of the Fraternal Order of Police union says the "learning curve" for the equipment and "heavy-stress situation[s]" may cause an officer to neglect to turn the camera on. The attorney for O'Neal's family, which Monday filed a civil suit against the officers involved, scoffs at those explanations. "How convenient that they don't work," the attorney told reporters, per the Chicago Sun-Times. "If there is not a cover-up, I don't know where there is one." Bodycam use in Chicago has been given higher priority since the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by a Chicago cop. (Read more police shooting stories.)

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