Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson on Saturday said he’s relieving the sergeant involved in the shooting death of a 19-year-old man of his police powers.
In a written statement emailed to the media, Johnson said he took the action because the department still has “many unanswered questions” about Wednesday night’s shooting in West Englewood.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office on Friday said an autopsy of Kajuan Raye showed he was killed by a gunshot in the back.
Johnson said those preliminary findings along with the unsuccessful search for a weapon the sergeant said was displayed during the pursuit of Raye led to Saturday’s announcement.
“Having been a police officer for 28 years, I know that this job is not easy and the decision to use force is extremely complex and must be made in seconds without the benefits of formal reviews and deliberations,” Johnson said in the statement.
“However, based on the little information we know at this point, I have concerns about this incident and feel this decision is in the best interest of the department and the people of Chicago as we await a methodical and impartial investigation into exactly what transpired.”
The sergeant, who had already been put on desk duty, will continue to be paid but have to turn in his weapon and badge. Relieving an officer of police powers is the most serious action the police department can take during an open investigation.
Police say the sergeant had given chase, thinking Raye matched the description of a battery suspect. Police say Raye was shot after the teen twice appeared to point a gun at the pursuing officer. But no gun had been found at the shooting scene.
Dozens of family members and supporters gathered Friday near the scene of the shooting to remember Raye’s life and call for justice.
Raye’s cousin, Ahkeya White, said the family was concerned about media attention paid to his prior arrest for theft, and said the teen was not doing anything wrong before police attempted to stop him Wednesday.
“Everybody got a story. Everybody got something they don’t want to put on TV,” White said, tears streaming down her cheeks. “That moment … two nights ago, whatever he did, he wasn’t doing it then, when they shot him down. And that officer didn’t know him.”
About 80 people crowded onto the sidewalk, some holding candles as they took turns at a microphone attached to a balky loudspeaker.
Johnson said earlier in the week it was not clear if the officers involved in the chase and shooting were wearing body cameras, though the department announced in September that body cameras would be issued to all patrol officers in six police districts, including the 7th District-Englewood, where Raye was shot.
A spokeswoman for the Independent Police Review Authority, the city agency that investigates police misconduct, said Thursday that officers in the 7th District had not yet been outfitted with body cameras.
IPRA, the city agency which investigates police shootings and allegations of misconduct, is reviewing the shooting. Surveillance camera video from a church near the shooting scene shows Raye sprinting away from a police officer, who trails the teen by a a half-dozen yards. The footage does not capture the shooting.
White, Raye’s cousin, addressed the prospect of a possible lawsuit in her remarks.
“We all work. It ain’t about no money, we don’t need money. Whatever they give … it won’t bring him back,” White said. “We’re trying to move forward… we’re going to do it by the book.”
Raye’s death was one of three fatal shootings by Chicago police officers in the last seven days, and the second in Englewood. Darius Dishaun Jones was gunned down in the 2000 block of West 69th Street, where police officers on patrol saw Jones shooting at a 26-year-old man. Police said officers opened fire after Jones ignored “repeated” orders to drop his weapon. Jones was pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Hospital. The man he allegedly shot suffered a wound to the abdomen, and was in critical condition.
Early Friday, police said 37-year-old Cleotha Mitchell was shot by an officer in the 600 block of Central Park Avenue in Homan Square, after Mitchell had fatally shot 35-year-old Jeffrey Banks.
Raye’s mother, Karonisha Ramsey, said only a few sentences, thanking the crowd of mourners.
“And as for my baby, I guess, we gonna get justice,” she said.
In a phone interview several hours before the vigil, Ramsey said Raye had called her Wednesday not long before he was shot, and she said he was on his way to her Dolton home for Thanksgiving dinner, which Ramsey has always cooked up on the Wednesday before the official holiday.
Ramsey said Raye had only recently moved back to Chicago after she had sent him to live with his aunt and grandmother in Texas. The teen had been unmotivated and his grades were slipping at Thorton Fractional High School, Ramsey said, and she hoped a change of scene would help him.
“I just wanted to put him in a different environment,” Ramsey said. “He had perfect attendance (at Thorton), he just wasn’t doing the work.”
Raye moved back when he turned 18, and while he wasn’t in school, Ramsey said she insisted that he start working toward getting his General Equivalency Diploma, and Raye was trying to get a job at Dominos Pizza, where his sister works. Someday, the teen hoped to become a veterinarian.
“He just loved dogs, and he kept saying he wanted to be a veterinarian. All he watched was Animal Channel,” she said. “He was a happy person. He wasn’t ever a problem.”