CHICAGO --Video of Chicago police fatally shooting a black teen on Jan. 7, 2013 was released to the public Thursday afternoon. Cedrick Chatman, 17, was unarmed when he was killed.
Attorneys Mark Smolens and Brian Coffman, representing the Chatman family, expressed frustration after a hearing Thursday morning that the city abruptly reversed its position Tuesday afternoon on whether to allow the public to see video of that shooting. Three weeks ago, just before the holidays, city attorneys filed a motion to keep the video under wraps.
Chatman was suspected in a carjacking when police shot and killed him during a foot chase. Chatman's family attorneys say Officer Lou Toth was chasing him while Officer Kevin Fry stood back and opened fire.
"From our point of view, it's very clear Mr. Chatman is running as fast as he can," Coffman said at a Thursday morning press conference. "Running away."
The attorneys say the videos contradict statements from police that Officer Fry feared for his life when Chatman turned and pointed a dark object at police. That object turned out to be a black iPhone box.
"Office Fry, it appeared, did not exhaust any method of capturing Chatman other than shooting him and killing him," says Lorenzo Davis, a former IPRA investigator.
When Davis investigated the case he concluded the shooting was not justified and Fry violated police policy. Davis says IPRA administrators asked him to change his findings, which he says he had been asked to do many times before on other cases. His refusal, Davis claims, led to his firing.
"Every time a video comes out, I do feel vindicated that there is more transparency now," he says.
Chatman's attorneys say they're still waiting for transparency. They have fought for the release of the video in the two years since the shooting happened.
"We're still hoping it's a systemic change in the way police misconduct is treated in the city of Chicago, and that's what this fight is about," said Smolens.
ACTIVISTS AND MINISTERS RESPOND
Community activist William Calloway spoke after Thursday morning's hearing, reiterating the call for African American clergy members and elected officials to boycott the annual Martin Luther King breakfast hosted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
"We're here because of Dr. King," Calloway said. "His spirit has to live through us. And until that changes, we're calling on a boycott."
Calloway said activists will march on Friday, as well as protest outside the MLK breakfast. There is also a Black Wall Street protest planned outside Chicago's Board of Trade and Board of Options.
Bishop Larry D. Trotter, of the Sweet Holy Spirit Church of Chicago, urged the public to demonstrate peacefully if the video is released Thursday.
"It's very unfortunate that the residents of Chicago must endure yet another horrifying video of an African American youth being gunned down by the hands of a Chicago Police officer. In anticipation of the release of this video, I appeal to the general public for calm and peaceful protest. This includes the protest planned for Mayor Emanuel's breakfast on Friday. All of our thoughts and prayers should be geared towards the family of Cedrick Chatman. For earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal," Trotter said in a statement.