Our Pledge To You

News

CPD releases bodycam footage of fatal officer-involved shooting in South Shore

Fatal police shooting in South Shore

Previously-released footage shows a Chicago Police officer fatally shooting Harith Augustus in the South Shore neighborhood. | Chicago Police

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson released body camera footage Sunday that shows a CPD officer fatally shooting an armed man less than a day earlier in the South Shore neighborhood.

Calling the shooting a “tragic lost of life,” Johnson said “if we expect neighborhoods to cooperate with police, we need to do our part to remain transparent.”

Hours earlier, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted that the unorthodox move was “in the interest of transparency & to dispell [sic] inaccurate information.”

Guglielmi said right before the shooting, officers saw the man, Harith L. Augustus, exhibiting “characteristics of an armed person” in the 2000 block of East 71st Street and a “confrontation” ensued when they tried to question him. Chief of Patrol Fred Waller said Augustus had a bulge near his waistband and “became combative.”

An officer – who had completed field training but was still considered probationary – then opened fire, striking the 37-year-old Augustus, according to Guglielmi and Frank Shuftan, a spokesman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Augustus was taken to Jackson Park Hospital and pronounced dead about 20 minutes later.

Augustus lived in the South Shore neighborhood, less than a mile from where he was killed, Shuftan said. An autopsy conducted Sunday found he died of multiple gunshot wounds, and his death was ruled a homicide.

No officers were hurt during the incident, and a weapon was recovered at the scene along with several magazines of ammunition, according to Guglielmi. Augustus had a valid FOID card but no concealed carry permit, the police superintendent said during a press conference Sunday.

Augustus wasn’t a documented gang member and had no recent arrest history, Guglielmi said.

Johnson said he made the decision to release the bodycam footage less than a day after the shooting because he felt the community needed to see the footage.

Police officials said they’re still reviewing several videos from other officers’ body cameras and police surveillance cameras on the block.

The decision about when to release the rest of the videos will be up to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, Johnson said; the agency, which investigates police-action shootings, is required to do so within 60 days of an incident.

The 45-second video contains no sound. Police said that’s because sound doesn’t turn on until 30 seconds after the recording button is activated.

Earlier Sunday, Johnson said the department showed the video to some of Augustus’ family members, including his mother and stepfather.

Johnson said he offered his “sincerest condolences” to the family, but then added he recognizes the incident has been tough on officers and the department is supporting them.

“I know the community is also hurting; we’ll be as transparent as possible,” he said. “I have an obligation to keep the city safe. … We cannot have another night like last night.”

He noted that the officers who confronted Augustus Saturday were on foot patrol and that some residents had asked police to add foot patrols in the area due to recent violence.

A chaotic scene simmered for hours after Saturday’s shooting, as dozens of people chanting “murderers” and “no justice, no peace” lingered in the neighborhood. Several officers were hurt by rocks and bottles that were hurled at them.

Four people were taken into custody, Guglielmi said. Felony charges were pending against one of the protesters, while the others were likely detained and released without being formally arrested.

People outside the crime scene claimed a female officer shot the man at least five times in the back as he ran away, and that the officer was taken away from the scene in a police vehicle afterward as the crowd formed. Contrary to those reports, Guglielmi said the officer who shot Augustus was a male.

Tensions boiled over about 7:30 p.m. as police tried to push protesters back from the scene, with officers hitting at least six people with batons and some protesters punching back. The scene cooled off for a while until more people flooded the area about 8:30 p.m., with some throwing glass bottles at officers.

Scores of people scattered after police with batons entered a parking lot where protesters were gathered.

“We just want to live,” one woman said. “Our black kids keep getting killed. We just want to live.”

Gloria Rainge, 41, said Augustus went by the nickname “Snoop,” worked at a barbershop at 71st Street and Euclid Avenue and had a 5-year-old daughter.

“He was cool, laid back, very intelligent,” Rainge said.

Protesters were active at the scene past 10:30 p.m. Police said two squad cars were damaged by people slashing tires and jumping on the vehicles, and that four officers received medical treatment after being hit by rocks and bottles. The group of demonstrators eventually made their way to the 3rd District police station at 70th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.

Charlene Carruthers said she was at the scene of the shooting when she was pushed to the ground by an officer.

“It is completely unacceptable for us to pay for them to kill us,” she said.

Protesters march to the 3rd District Police Station about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, July 14, 2018 in the 7000 block of South Cottage Grove Ave in Chicago. | Justin Jackson/ Sun-Times

Protesters march to the 3rd District Police Station about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, July 14, 2018, in the 7000 block of South Cottage Grove Ave in Chicago. | Justin Jackson/ Sun-Times

On Sunday afternoon, activists organized a “mindful healing village” in the Woodlawn neighborhood for community members to sit, reflect and share what they saw during when South Side residents clashed with police the day before.

Maria Hernandez, a 27-year-old Black Lives Matter Chicago organizer, said police were wrong to charge and hit protesters, some of whom struck officers.

“[The police] were much more violent than the protesters,” Hernandez said.

Rachel Williams, 27, said it was traumatizing “seeing people she sees on the bus every day” being body slammed by cops.

Some were planning to meet later Sunday at the mall near 71st Street and Jeffrey to protest near the scene of the shooting for a second night.

Contributing: Tom Schuba, Michael McDevitt

Related