Police radio shows confusion before cop fatally shot Paul O’Neal

SHARE Police radio shows confusion before cop fatally shot Paul O’Neal

In this frame grab from a body camera provided by the Independent Police Review Authority, a Chicago police officer fires into a stolen car driven by Paul O’Neal on July 28, 2016, in Chicago. | Chicago Police Department/Independent Police Review Authority via AP

In the minutes before police fatally shot 18-year-old Paul O’Neal as he ran from a stolen Jaguar, a dispatcher was trying to sort out whether the officers were chasing the right car, according to police radio broadcasts that night.

Two officers fired into a speeding black convertible Jaguar that O’Neal was driving on July 28 in the South Shore neighborhood. The fatal bullet came from a third officer who shot O’Neal in the back after he exited the car and ran into a yard, police officials say.

Within 48 hours, police Supt. Eddie Johnson stripped the officers of their powers after saying they appeared to violate policy when they fired their weapons. On Friday, the Independent Police Review Authority released video from a dashboard camera and eight body cameras showing the events that led to the shooting.

The police-radio broadcasts from that night don’t shed any light on whether the officers were involved in misconduct in connection with the shooting. But they do show confusion involving two separate chases of stolen cars just before O’Neal was shot about 7:30 p.m. near 74th and Merrill in the South Chicago police district.

Less than an hour before the shooting, South Chicago officers radioed that they were following a “hot car,” a gray-and-black BMW with Notre Dame plates that was registered to a Hinsdale man.

The officers chased the car — with their emergency lights on — but the driver got away. Other South Chicago officers were looking for the BMW, and citizens were providing them with sightings. A police helicopter was on its way to search for the car.

A little while later, other officers radioed that they had spotted the stolen car, which they described as a black Jaguar. The dispatcher was confused: “It’s a BMW. Do you have eyes on that BMW?”

A pursuing officer responded, “We got eyes on that.”

Within a minute, the dispatcher repeated: “It’s a BMW. Are you guys looking at a BMW? Are you looking at a gray BMW with Notre Dame plates?”

The officer replied something unintelligible about a “black Jaguar.”

“No, that’s not the car that was stolen [and chased earlier],” the dispatcher said. “You’re looking for a gray BMW with Notre Dame plates.”

Officers then gave the dispatcher the license plate number of the Jaguar and she told them it was “LoJacked,” meaning a security system in the car had notified police it was stolen.

Officers briefly lost sight of the Jaguar. Then they chased it in circles in the neighborhood near 73rd and Merrill.

In minutes, officers radioed, “You got him, you got him” and “he’s running.”

“We got him in the yard,” an officer radioed. The dispatcher then announced, “One in custody.” An officer responded, “We need an EMS for him.”

One officer in the helicopter speculated that a car-theft ring was behind the heists of the BMW and Jaguar. Police were on the alert about a crime pattern involving crooks using stolen luxury vehicles to commit violent crimes in the area, a police spokesman said.

Police officials later told reporters that the Jaguar was stolen earlier that day in Bolingbrook. A 17-year-old in the Jaguar was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, a felony.

Police said they were unaware of the Jaguar being used in any violent crimes. The BMW wasn’t recovered, a police spokesman said.

The police videos released last week also captured the confusion in the minutes before O’Neal was shot.

One dashcam video shows a police car circling the South Shore area until just after 7:23 p.m., when a radio dispatcher reported the Jaguar was headed northbound from 75th and Merrill.

As the officers turned a corner, they saw a black sports car headed their way. It eased toward the side of the road as the squad car approached.

“Is this it?” says one of the cops.

“No, no, no,” says his partner. “That’s not a 2002.”

The first officer wasn’t convinced. “It’s a Jaguar, dude.”

As their police car slowed, the second cop wondered if it might be the car they’re looking for after all.

Seconds after turning onto Merrill, the police saw a different black sports car — the Jaguar — speeding toward them with another squad car in pursuit. They hit the brakes and jumped out.

The Jaguar veered around them, narrowly missing the cop who had been driving. Both officers opened fire repeatedly.

“Shots fired!” one of the officers is heard shouting. “Shots fired by police!”

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