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3rd cop suspended in fatal shooting of man, 18, shot in the back

Police Supt. Eddie Johnson has moved to fire seven police officers in connection with the Laquan McDonald shooting. | Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times

A third Chicago cop involved in the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old man Thursday night in South Shore has been “relieved of his police powers” by Supt. Eddie Johnson after an autopsy showed the dead man was shot in the back, a police spokesman said Saturday.

The other two officers who fired at Paul O’Neal in the 7300 block of South Merrill Avenue were reassigned to administrative duty late Friday, with police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi saying it “appears that departmental policies may have been violated.”

Autopsy results released Saturday showed O’Neal, whose shooting is under investigation by the city’s Independent Police Review Authority, died of a gunshot wound to the back. The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide.

“Following the release of autopsy results from the Cook County medical examiner this morning, Johnson spent hours behind closed doors at police headquarters Saturday getting briefed on the results and [reviewing] video evidence with department officials,” Guglielmi said Saturday night.

“While the events are under formal investigation by IPRA, all officers involved have been relieved of police powers and removed from operational duties,” Guglielmi said. “Johnson has pledged that CPD will conduct a thorough and fact-based administrative review of the incident. He also stressed that the department will be transparent and open with the community on findings once IPRA completes its review.”

The three officers are being assigned to administrative positions pending the outcome of IPRA’s investigation, Guglielmi said.

On Friday, when he announced the first two officers were relived of their duties, he said, “CPD investigators determined [three] officers discharged their weapons … Given what is known thus far, it appears that departmental policies may have been violated by at least [two] of the police officers.”

The shooting happened around 7:30 p.m. Thursday after the officers tried to pull over a Jaguar convertible that had been reported stolen earlier that day, according to the police. The Jaguar was blocked from getting away, but the officers told department officials they fired when the driver tried to take off anyway and ended up crasing into a parked vehicle.

O’Neal, of the 1700 block of East 70th Street, died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital about an hour and a half after he was shot.

A 17-year-old boy who was in the car with him has been charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, a felony, the police said Saturday. It wasn’t clear which of them was driving.

On Friday, Johnson “spent most of this afternoon with top advisers and command staff reviewing the preliminary information,” Guglielmi said.

He said the officers involved were wearing body cameras, and the police vehicles at the scene had their cameras activated.