Aunt of man fatally shot by Chicago Police sues city

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The aunt of a 23-year-old Chicago man fatally shot by a Chicago Police officer last summer in the South Shore neighborhood has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city and the officer.

LaQuida Cockerham filed the 12-count lawsuit Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court in connection with the June 20, 2015, shooting of Alfontish Cockerham by a Chicago Police officer.

She claims in the suit that her nephew did not show a gun or other weapons; he did not commit a crime; he did not point a gun at the officer; he was not a threat to the officer or anyone else in the area; and that he was running away from the officer — with his back turned — when the officer fatally shot her nephew.

Officers were called about 12:10 a.m. to the 7000 block of South Merrill for a report of a person with a gun. A responding officer saw Cockerham and three others walking at 71st and Merrill, and when the officer got out of the car and announced he was police, Cockerham ran eastbound on 71st, according to the lawsuit and previous Chicago Sun-Times reports.

As Cockerham was running, he saw two other officers, turned around and ran westbound. He came toward the first officer who had stopped him, and the officer saw a gun in his right hand, authorities said.

Cockerham ran past the officer northbound on Merrill, then pointed the gun at the officer. The officer fired, striking him at least three times, according to the lawsuit. No officers were injured in the shooting.

He survived for five days after the shooting and was pronounced dead June 25, 2015, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital at 10:57 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. An autopsy found that Cockerham died of complications of multiple gunshot wounds, and ruled his death a homicide.

Cockerham, of the 11800 block of South Harvard, had been charged before his death with one count of aggravated assault of a peace officer with a weapon, and one count of unlawful use of a weapon, both felonies, Chicago Police said at the time.

A .45 caliber gun was recovered at the scene, Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Antoniette said during Cockerham’s bond hearing. Judge Laura Sullivan set bond at $100,000 for Cockerham, who had previous convictions for trying to disarm a police officer, and aggravated battery to an officer, the Chicago Sun-Times reported at the time.

According to the lawsuit, a Pay Day Loan Store, which is at the northeastern corner of East 71st Street and South Merrill Avenue, had a camera on the outside wall of its building in the area of where Cockerham was shot by the officer.

A “dark object becomes visible on the eastern sidewalk of South Merrill Avenue” as Cockerham runs by, and at this moment the officer fires his gun. Cockerham then falls to the ground in front of a parked car with his hands in the air “in the manner of surrendering,” according to the lawsuit.

LaQuida Cockerham is seeking at least $700,000 in damages.

The City Law Department did not immediately return requests for comment.

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