Family of teen whom Chicago cop fatally shot in back gets $350k

SHARE Family of teen whom Chicago cop fatally shot in back gets $350k

Chicago Police Officer Robert Gonzalez | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Patricia Green sat at the plaintiff’s table, clutching the hands of one of her attorneys, as Cook County Judge Elizabeth Budzinski announced that a jury had awarded her $350,000 in the fatal  police shooting of her teenage son, Christian Green.

The jurors awarded Patricia Green the damages Tuesday after finding that Chicago Police Officer Robert Gonzalez did not reasonably believe that her 17-year-old son’s actions “placed himself or others in imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm.”

“Christian Green, my son, needed a voice,” Patricia Green told reporters after the verdict was read. “And I was his voice. He couldn’t speak for himself. He couldn’t fight for himself. So I had to do that for him.”

The 12-person jury had been in deliberations since Friday.

In an emailed statement, Chicago Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey said, “We are disappointed in the jury’s verdict and are considering our legal options.”

No specific dollar amount was sought, though the Green family’s lead attorney Victor Henderson said the $350,000 award is less than they’d hoped for.

“It wasn’t the slam dunk or complete victory that we wanted,” Henderson told reporters outside the courtroom.

“But it still moved the ball forward for everybody that’s in the city of Chicago who believes that justice should be colorblind and that the police officers should be fair and play it down the middle.”

Christian Green, who was armed with a handgun, was fleeing when Gonzalez fatally shot him in the back near 57th and State over the Fourth of July in 2013.

Surveillance footage released during the trial shows Christian  Green trying to toss the gun in a garbage can, but the weapon bounces off the rim of the can and falls to the sidewalk; at that point, he runs back and picks it up.

There’s no video that captures the moment Christian Green was shot.

Gonzalez testified that, during a pursuit, Christian Green turned and pointed a gun at him.

Gonzalez’ partner, George Hernandez, was driving their police SUV.

Gonzalez said they saw Christian Green running awkwardly down State Street, and watched as the teen fumbled a black handgun near the corner of 57th Street, then doubled back to pick up the pistol before sprinting off again.

Hernandez said that as the teen raced across the lot, he turned and pointed the gun at the officers. Gonzalez said that as he was preparing to leap out to give chase, he saw the barrel of the gun pointed at him and his partner, and he opened fire from the open window of the SUV.

Police reports show Gonzalez fired 11 shots at Christian Green, striking the teenager once. Gonzalez said he saw Christian Green stumble, then run a few more steps before slumping to the ground — contradicting what a witness said she saw from her nearby balcony.

The gun Christian Green had been carrying was found 75 feet from his body, Henderson previously noted. An autopsy performed by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office concluded that the teenager was shot in the back.

The Independent Police Review Authority found the shooting to be justified.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson — who at the time was the acting street deputy — was the highest ranking department member at the scene. Johnson testified in the case earlier this month, saying that is permissible for an officer to shoot a fleeing suspect that way — as long as the person is armed.

While at the scene, Johnson testified, he talked to each officer involved individually. “I want them to tell me their own recollection of what happened,” Johnson said.

He also said he reviewed and approved all officer battery and tactical-response reports from the Fourth of July shooting.

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