‘I’ll kill you,’ off-duty cop yells before fatally shooting man who appeared to grab for her gun, video shows
The video and other material were released Thursday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which is investigating the shooting of Leevon Smith Jan. 18 in the 1300 block of West 90th Street.
An off-duty Chicago cop shouted “I’ll kill you” before fatally shooting a man who grabbed for her gun during a struggle last month in Washington Heights on the South Side, video released Thursday shows.
“Didn’t I just say I’d kill you?” the officer asks after the third and final shot is fired. “Didn’t I just say I’d kill you?”
The private surveillance footage, released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, initially shows Leevon Smith arguing with a group of people in the 1300 block of West 90th Street just before 1 p.m. on Jan. 18.
The off-duty officer eventually leaves an apartment building, tries to defuse the conflict and urges those involved to “calm down.” The other people take off, but Smith sticks around and talks to the officer for just over a minute.
As she turns to head back into the apartment building, the video appears to show Smith reach for the officer’s handgun, setting off a struggle.
“I’ll kill you,” the officer yells before firing two shots.
“You got me. You got me,” Smith says.
“I told your dumb--- I’d kill you,” the officer says as she fires a third shot.
“Baby, I’m sorry,” Smith responds. “I’m sorry. … I don’t want to die.”
The officer then yells for someone to call the police while continuing to scream at Smith. At no point is the officer seen offering aid to the wounded man.
“I told your dumb--- I’d shoot you,” the officer yells. “You tried to steal my f---ing gun. I don’t give no f--- about him. He just tried to rob me.”
Before the ambulance arrives, the officer is seen walking into the building, then coming back out while on the phone. When an emergency crew pulls up, one of them asks her, “Where’d you hit him?”
“I don’t know,” the officer replies.
An arrest report shows the cop told responding officers that the shooting happened after she witnessed “a verbal argument.” She said Smith grabbed her from behind and reached for her gun “in an attempt to disarm her.”
She and Smith eventually fell to the ground while struggling for the gun, the report states. The officer then opened fire, striking Smith in his abdomen and left hand. Smith was taken into custody and brought to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead on Jan. 20.
A tactical response report states that Smith posed an “imminent threat of battery” without a weapon and physically attacked the officer. It also claims she was ambushed with “no warning” and fired a total of three shots.
The officer was treated for a laceration above her right eye at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, according to the arrest report.
Records show she joined the police force last June. The Sun-Times isn’t naming her because she hasn’t formally been accused of wrongdoing.
A 911 call released by COPA appears to capture the initial interaction between Smith and the group of people before the shooting.
“Just give me my bag back, bro,” someone is heard saying during an argument captured on the call.
In another call, someone else tells a dispatcher that a person was being held for police after he tried to rob a woman. The shooting is then reported in separate 911 calls, one of which references a prior fight in the area.
“There’s a lady outside with a gun, and she shot somebody. ... She’s going inside with the gun,” one caller said.
The officer ultimately calls 911 herself and reports that she shot Smith as he tried to rob her. “I’m trying to call my bosses, but ain’t no one answering for me,” she said.
“F--- it, I can’t believe this just happened to me,” she said before telling first responders that she is a cop and Smith tried to steal her “off-duty gun.”
A day before Smith died, Cook County prosecutors approved felony charges against him, the arrest report shows. He faced counts of attempted robbery and aggravated battery, but the charges don’t appear in county court records.
Smith’s estate filed a lawsuit against the city and the officer Feb. 3, pushing for a judgment of $10 million.
The officer, who isn’t named in the lawsuit, allegedly used “excessive and violent physical force” and “knew or should have known that such force was not necessary in light of the circumstances,” according to the complaint.
The suit claims that Smith’s “estate was diminished by virtue of the medical and funeral expenses that were incurred,” adding that his family “suffered injuries as a result of his death, including, but not limited to, the loss of companionship and society, grief, sorrow and mental anguish.”