A 20-year-old African-American man had a gun put to his head by an off-duty Chicago firefighter for no other reason than being a black man in the wrong neighborhood, say the young man’s family and supporters.
“This is not open season on a black male,” said William Fleshman, pastor at Abundant Living Christian Center, in Dolton, speaking to reporters Wednesday outside the Chicago Police Department’s 9th District police station in Bridgeport, where the Aug. 24 incident allegedly occurred.
Fleshman and others are demanding to know why charges haven’t yet been filed against the firefighter.
When he was allegedly accosted that night, Jermayne Smith had just run an errand at the nearby Robert Healy Elementary School. Smith is a contractor for Chicago Public Schools, his father said.
The Chicago firefighter, wearing pajamas, came out of his home, pulled a gun on Smith and forced him to the ground, Smith’s supporters say. The firefighter claimed he was a Chicago police officer, the supporters say.
The firefighter then called 911.
When police arrived, the firefighter told them he had a concealed carry permit. Smith was handcuffed, briefly, but both men were eventually allowed to leave.
Smith’s supporters say the firefighter should be charged with a crime.
Smith’s father, Jermaine Smith, said that he feels very fortunate that his son wasn’t shot.
“Anything could have startled him,” said Smith, who lives in Chicago Heights. “He would have killed my son. My baby wouldn’t be here. We’d be making funeral arrangements because of this.”
The younger Smith, also from Chicago Heights, did not attend Wednesday’s press conference because, his father said, he’s now afraid to be in Bridgeport.
Tom Ahern, a CPD spokesman, said the department is working with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office to see if any criminal charges are warranted. Ahern also said the Civilian Office of Police Accountability has opened an investigation.
“We are watching very carefully to see what the investigation determines,” said Chicago Fire spokesman Larry Langford.