In a report issued Thursday night, the Independent Police Review Authority determined that the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy by a Chicago Police officer in 2012 was “unprovoked and unwarranted.”
Dakota Bright was shot in the back of the head by an officer on Nov. 8, 2012, near 67th and Indiana.
In its report, IPRA said the officer — who was not named in the report — “used an unreasonable and excessive amount of force when he shot (Dakota).”
In June 2016, the City Council approved a $925,000 settlement to the family of Dakota, who was a freshman at Robeson High School when he was killed.
Dakota was at a friend’s house about 3:30 p.m. that day when he left to walk to his grandmother’s home nearby, his family told the Chicago Sun-Times shortly after his death.
Nearby officers were responding to a call of a burglary — which proved to be unfounded — when they saw the teen walking through an alley.
The officer who shot Dakota said he saw him holding a black handgun. The teen was trying to stick the gun in his waistband before running off, the officer told IPRA.
The officers chased after Dakota, ordering him to stop and drop the gun, but the teen kept running, jumping fences into at least one nearby backyard, according to the report.
Dakota turned back to look at police while trying to reach for his waistband when he was shot, the officer told IPRA. A weapon was recovered nearby, but not on Dakota’s person, IPRA noted.
IPRA said that since Dakota didn’t have a gun on him, it was “unlikely” that he would have made a gesture to suggest otherwise.
Three other officers at the scene of the shooting said they saw the teen holding his side while running away — something often done by those who are running and do not want to drop a firearm.
Citing detective files it had reviewed, IPRA noted that there were at least five photos on Dakota’s Facebook page of the teen posing with a handgun.
IPRA, though, cast doubt on the legitimacy of the other officers’ accounts, saying they had ample time to collude.
“These officers were not only colleagues who frequently worked together, they were friends that socialized together,” IPRA wrote.
“They had ample opportunity to discuss the events among themselves at the scene of the incident as well as on at least three other occasions,” investigators said. “Even if there was no collusion regarding how the officers would ultimately describe the events in question, these multiple discussions could easily have influenced each officer’s recollection of what happened.”
“He wasn’t the monster they’re making him out to be,” said his mother, Panzy Edwards. She said she doesn’t believe the police account of what happened. “No matter what he did or how he did it, they shouldn’t have killed him.”
He loved to play basketball and video games. His favorite song was “Neva End,” by the rapper Future.
“He was an average teenager,” said his aunt, Tianne Dakota. “He wasn’t no violent person.”
IPRA’s recommendation will now be sent to Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, who will determine whether or not to recommend discipline for the officer to the Chicago Police Board.