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Attorney for family of Kajuan Raye rejects COPA finding that his fatal 2016 shooting was justified

Sgt. John Poulos said he fired after Raye pointed a gun at him twice on Nov. 23, 2016 near 65th Street and Marshfield Avenue. COPA said a gun was found nearby three months later.

Kajuan Raye was fatally shot by Chicago Police Sgt. John Poulos in November 2016.
Kajuan Raye
Provided

An attorney for the family of Kajuan Raye — fatally shot by a Chicago police sergeant in November 2016 — is pushing back on the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s conclusion the shooting was justified.

Sgt. John Poulos fatally shot Raye, 19, on Nov. 23, 2016, near 65th Street and Marshfield Avenue after Raye pointed a gun at him twice. In the ensuing search of the area, no gun was recovered.

In its report made public in April, COPA said a gun was found in the area of the shooting nearly three months later.

Michael Oppenheimer, whose office filed a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department after Raye’s death, questioned the validity of COPA’s finding.

“A gun is recovered almost three months after the incident after quite an extensive search,” Oppenheimer said. “The fact that a gun shows up three months later is beyond shady to me and it clearly reeks of a plant.”

“I put zero stock in the COPA findings.”

A spokesman for the city’s Law Department, which is representing Poulos in the lawsuit brought by Raye’s family, declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. A representative for COPA did not respond to a request for comment.

Chicago Police Sgt. John Poulos
Chicago Police Sgt. John Poulos
Better Government Association

Poulos was on duty in the Englewood District around 11 p.m. when he responded to a call of a male choking a female in an alley near 65th Street and Ashland Avenue.

Once there, Poulos saw Raye — who matched the suspect’s description — standing at a nearby bus stop. Poulos approached Raye, and the 19-year-old took off running west toward a vacant lot near 6507 S. Marshfield Ave.

“According to Sgt. Poulos, when he entered the lot, Raye turned backwards, extended his right arm, and pointed a pistol at him. Sgt. Poulos drew his weapon and fired once. Raye turned away from Sgt. Poulos and continued to run west toward Marshfield. Several seconds later, Sgt. Poulos stated that Raye again extended his right arm and pointed a gun at him, and Sgt. Poulos discharged his weapon a second time,” COPA wrote.

Raye died of a single gunshot wound to the back.

The police oversight agency noted that Raye’s social media activity factored into its conclusion.

After obtaining warrants to search Raye’s social media accounts, COPA found that a day before the shooting, Raye sent a photo to another person that appeared to show a Kahr Arms CW40 pistol — the same type of gun that was eventually recovered by police.

Raye was the second person shot and killed by Poulos, who was promoted to sergeant after a recommendation from former First Deputy Supt. Kevin Navarro in February 2016.

Poulos fatally shot a suspected burglar near a former Lincoln Park bar that was owned by him and his family in 2013. The man was unarmed, and Poulos was cleared in the shooting.

However, in 2004, the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau opened an investigation into Poulos’ ownership in the now-closed bar. Owning an establishment that sells alcohol is prohibited and could end with an officer’s firing; Poulos went on disability shortly after the internal affairs investigation started.

Investigators also looked at allegations Poulos had not disclosed that he was arrested before applying to the department.

The investigation apparently went dormant because Poulos stayed off the job for another seven years, department sources previously told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Police Supt. Eddie Johnson wanted Poulos terminated, but the Chicago Police Board dismissed the charges against Poulos last year.