A day after a Chicago police officer fatally shot Maurice Granton Jr. in the back during a Bronzeville foot chase, loved ones gathered to remember the slain man — and to question why he was killed.
“He was running away,” Granton’s sister Joanna Varnado said before about 100 people gathered Thursday evening for a vigil at the shooting scene near 47th Street and Prairie. “Why is it OK for a police officer to shoot someone who is running away?”
But Chicago police officials say Granton pulled a gun on tactical officers who were trying to stop him during a narcotics investigation about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday in the 300 block of West 47th Street. One officer opened fire during an “armed encounter” after Granton pulled a gun, according to a police statement.
Granton died at the University of Chicago Medicine trauma center within the hour. The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled Thursday that he suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the back.
Shortly after the shooting, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted a photo of a gun allegedly recovered from Granton at the scene, and on Thursday — “in response to claims that offender was unarmed and the weapon was planted by CPD officers” — Guglielmi took the unusual step of releasing surveillance video purporting to show Granton handling the gun prior to the police encounter.
Still, relatives, friends and neighborhood residents have questioned that narrative, leading to tense confrontations with officers in the shooting’s aftermath, and skepticism at Thursday’s vigil.
“I want justice for my brother,” Varnado said.
Family members said they don’t believe Granton had a gun, and they claimed the officer fired 12 rounds — because he was “mad” because a sergeant had hurt his ankle during the chase — hitting Granton at least six times.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates shootings by officers, said the officer fired three times, and that the agency will release body-camera footage within 60 days.
Granton, a father of two young daughters, previously had been convicted of robbery and theft, court records show. Family members and friends described him as a loving person.
“He was silly, goofy, fun,” Varnado said. “He cared about his family. Everything was about family.”
The officer who opened fire is on desk duty for 30 days, per CPD policy.