(CHICAGO) — An investigation is underway after a Chicago police officer shot a 13-year-old boy during a foot pursuit who authorities allege was involved in two recent carjackings.
The incident occurred Wednesday night on the city’s West Side. Police tracked the license plate of a vehicle stolen two days earlier in Chicago to the area shortly after 10 p.m., according to Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown.
As officers attempted to stop the vehicle, the teenager got out of the car and fled, as several officers pursued him on foot, Brown said.
“The subject flees to a gas station parking lot … and turns toward the officer,” Brown told reporters during a briefing Thursday. “The officer then discharges his weapon, striking the individual once.”
Officers rendered first aid and moved the boy away from the nearby gas pumps due to concerns over a possible explosion following the gunfire, Brown said.
He was transported to an area hospital in serious but stable condition, according to the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, an independent agency that is investigating the shooting. He was also placed in custody for the stolen car, Brown said.
No weapon was recovered from the scene, Eaddy said.
The officer’s body-worn camera was on at the time of the shooting, according to Brown and COPA spokesperson Ephraim Eaddy. COPA also has third-party footage of the incident, Eaddy said.
COPA is unable to release any video of the shooting because it involves a juvenile, the office said. In the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo last year, it released the body camera footage at the request of Toledo’s family.
Brown said he was limited in what he could discuss around Wednesday’s shooting, including the contents of the body-worn camera footage, amid the investigation.
“We cannot draw conclusions to an investigation that just started last night,” he said Thursday. “We’re not going to answer how many shots were fired. The ballistics evidence will say that. We’re not going to answer anything else about the shooting.”
It is not clear at this time where the teen was shot, said Brown, who added he would defer to medical personnel’s findings for that.
“We’re not going to speculate. This investigation will reveal the facts,” he said, adding that COPA has his department’s full support.
The driver of the stolen vehicle fled the scene in the car and has not been apprehended, police said. The car was found abandoned a couple of miles from the scene of the shooting and was being processed for evidence, Brown said.
Several witnesses told Chicago ABC station WLS that the teen had his hands up before he was shot.
When asked by a reporter whether the shooting was justified, Brown said it was too soon to jump to conclusions, and that the officer and suspect had yet to provide a statement.
“There’s a lot of evidence, a lot of work that needs to be done,” he said. “Jumping to conclusions is just not fair to any of the people involved because you might jump to the conclusion that is wrong.”
At the same time, Alderperson Emma Mitts, who represents the 37th Ward where the shooting occurred, was left questioning the use of force.
“Why would you want to shoot if you can easily go and chase him?” Mitts told WLS. “The 13-year-old did not have a weapon that was recovered from the scene. So now that brings up concern to why and what happened. Certainly we don’t want an officer out here shooting our children for no reason, that’s insane.”
In a statement, COPA said it was “committed to a full and thorough investigation into the officer’s use of force to determine if their actions were in accordance with Department policy and training.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she has been in contact with Brown and COPA regarding Wednesday’s shooting.
“I have full confidence that COPA will investigate this incident expeditiously with the full cooperation of the Chicago Police Department,” she said in a statement.
No information on the officer who discharged his weapon has been released at this time. The officers involved will be placed on routine administrative duties for 30 days, the police department said.
Police believe the 13-year-old boy was involved in the carjacking of that vehicle, as well as a second carjacking that occurred on Tuesday in Oak Park, Brown said. In that incident, a car left running with a 3-year-old girl in the back seat was stolen, and the mother was dragged after grabbing onto the car before falling and breaking her clavicle, the superintendent said.
The car was soon recovered with the child still safely inside, he said.
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