Mayor Rahm Emanuel emphasized Tuesday that every fatal police shooting in Chicago is different — following news that a sergeant was being sued for his second deadly shooting in which a gun wasn’t recovered.
Sgt. John Poulos has been stripped of his badge and gun while investigators review the Nov. 23 death of Kajuan Raye in West Englewood.
Poulos said he saw Raye, 19, point a gun at him twice during a foot chase, but investigators didn’t find a weapon, according to authorities. Raye was shot in the back.
He’s among five people who have been shot to death by Chicago Police officers in November. So far this year, police have fatally shot 11 people. There were nine such killings in all of 2015, 17 in 2014 and 13 in 2013.
In one of the most controversial shootings this year, Joshua Beal was killed on Nov. 5 in Mount Greenwood, touching off protests between police supporters and those in the Black Lives Matter movement. Beal had stood outside a car after a funeral procession and pointed a gun toward a crowd, authorities said. Two off-duty officers then shot him.
Another man, Richard Grimes, was killed on Monday after he shot his pregnant fiancée, wounding her and killing their unborn child, police said. Officers said they shot Grimes after he fired at them.
The mayor pointed to the Grimes case as an example of how all police-involved killings aren’t the same.
“You’re lumping things together, which I would not,” Emanuel told reporters. “There is an element of violence in our neighborhoods and our communities that police are confronting — very difficult situation. We should appreciate what our officers are facing.”
He noted that Poulos was stripped of his police powers, which does not happen in every police-involved shooting.
Emanuel’s comments came after Raye’s mother sued Poulos and the city of Chicago in federal court on Tuesday.
Standing beside Raye’s mother, his younger sister and about a dozen supporters at a press conference outside police headquarters, the family’s attorney, Michael Oppenheimer, called for a criminal investigation of the shooting.
Raye’s mother, Karonisha Ramsey, is alleging in her lawsuit that Poulos acted with “reckless indifference” and used excessive force when he shot her son in the 1400 block of West 65th.
“This is the second time this officer shot an African-American man,” Oppenheimer said. “If he had been taken off the street, Kajuan would be here today. But instead, we’re here today at a press conference with a family that just came from the church where they were making funeral arrangements.”
Activist Ja’mal Green added: “Too often this is happening and nothing is getting done. . . . We want harsh penalties for this police officer. This man has kept walking our neighborhoods and kept on shooting our black young males, and we are not going to stand for it.”
After speaking at a Union League Club breakfast on the police department’s use-of-force policy Tuesday morning, police Supt. Eddie Johnson said that his knowledge of Poulos’ previous fatal shooting — in which a gun also wasn’t recovered — didn’t influence his decision to strip the sergeant of his police powers swiftly after last week’s shooting of Raye.
“Each incident has to stand on its own individual merit,” Johnson told reporters.
“As I said before, I do have some concerns about the incident,” he said.
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Poulos continues to face a lawsuit brought by the family of Rickey Rozelle in Cook County Circuit Court over the fatal shooting of the 28-year-old man in 2013. Poulos was leaving a Lincoln Park sports bar owned by his family when he saw a man apparently trying to break into a building from a second-floor back porch, according to police records. Poulos identified himself as an officer and called 911.
He fatally shot Rozelle, a felon with mental problems, in a gangway in the 1900 block of North Lincoln Avenue, later telling authorities that Rozelle threatened to kill him and “turned toward [him] with a shiny, metallic object in or near his hand,” records show. No gun was found.
On the 911 recording, Poulos said, “He is on the ground. He refused to show me his hands,” according a Better Government Association report published in the Chicago Sun-Times this year. Later, Poulos said, “He refused to show me his hands and then he went into his pockets.”
Poulos was cleared of wrongdoing in the Rozelle shooting by both the Independent Police Review Authority and an internal investigation by the police department.
In 2013, Poulos was reprimanded for inattention to duty because his firearm accidentally discharged while he was in a foot pursuit in May 2012 in the South Chicago District, according to the Independent Police Review Authority.
Contributing: Mitch Dudek