On a sunny weekend in 2016, racial tensions flared when two white off-duty cops fatally shot an armed black man in Mount Greenwood.
Joshua Beal, 25, of Indianapolis, had been in a funeral procession in the predominantly white neighborhood on the Far Southwest Side. The death of Beal, who was serving as a pallbearer for his cousin, prompted African-Americans to march in the neighborhood, yelling, “CPD, KKK!”
In response, Mount Greenwood residents took to the streets to show their support for the police and their neighborhood, a stronghold of white city workers. A white off-duty firefighter who was attacked during the incident posted the message “Mount Greenwood Strong” on his Facebook page.
Now, nearly a year and a half later, three city agencies reviewing the chaotic circumstances leading to Beal’s death say they’re continuing to investigate and won’t talk about the case.
But, according to dozens of pages of detectives’ reports and photos that the Chicago Sun-Times obtained only after suing the city to get them:
• A woman taking a smoking break from her bartender’s job said she heard a white driver shout the N-word to African-Americans in the funeral procession. That prompted them to stop, and she said she saw a black man then punch the unidentified white driver.
• A white off-duty cop, Officer Joseph Treacy, called 911 and said his car had been boxed in by people in the motorcade. He asked the dispatcher to send uniformed police officers “before someone gets shot.”
• Treacy pointed his weapon at a group of African-Americans who gathered around him and were taunting him. He was one of the two officers who subsequently shot Beal.
Authorities have refused to say anything about what sparked the racially charged incident that ended with Beal being shot eight times.
Though the detectives’ reports reach no conclusions and contain some inconsistencies, a lawyer for the dead man’s family says it’s clear what sparked everything on Nov. 5, 2016.
“The N-word started it,” says Blake Horwitz, who represents Beal’s fiancee Ashley Phifer and their two children in a lawsuit against the city.
Beal was shot by Treacy and off-duty Sgt. Thomas Derouin after pointing a 9mm gun at them, according to the police.
The city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability is looking into whether the off-duty cops were justified in using deadly force. The Chicago Fire Department’s internal affairs division and the city’s Office of Inspector General also are investigating.
The detectives don’t give a precise chronology of the events that day. But the newly released reports, along with dozens of 911 calls and three cellphone videos, provide the fullest picture yet of the deadly confrontation.
• • •
According to the police reports, the melee that preceded Beal’s shooting broke out just outside Joseph’s Restaurant & Bar in the 3100 block of West 111th Street, where a baby shower had been going on.
A bartender told detectives she was smoking a cigarette outside Joseph’s around 3 p.m. that day, a Saturday, when she saw three westbound vehicles.
A white man driving one of the cars yelled at black women in another car, calling them the N-word. The cars stopped, and a black man punched that white man in the face, the bartender told detectives.
Horwitz says he knows who yelled the racial slur, though the bartender didn’t identify the man, according to the police reports. The Sun-Times couldn’t independently confirm the man’s identity.
The bartender said a white man, wearing a red T-shirt and holding a gun, yelled at the group of African-Americans who’d pulled over. He ordered them to step back, saying, “I am an off-duty officer. I’m police! I’m police!”
The police reports identify Treacy as the off-duty officer.
Treacy told detectives he was driving west on 111th when he saw two or three cars driving recklessly, going in and out of traffic, near the entrance to Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery. He said the cars boxed him in near 111th and Troy.
In the call to 911, Treacy can be heard saying he was being “encircled by two cars right now.” Twice, he’s heard referring to the black people in those cars as “motherf—–s.”
“They cut me off the road, and one car came on the side of me, and one car came on the back of me,” Treacy tells the dispatcher, warning that someone could get shot.
Treacy told detectives that a black man punched him in the face.
He told them he drove away and parked west of Troy. He said he got his gun and badge and ran back to protect a man being attacked. The police reports identify that man as Ryne Kinsella, a white off-duty emergency medical technician with the Chicago Fire Department.
Kinsella told detectives he was attacked by African-Americans in the funeral procession after he ordered them to get back in their vehicles and stop blocking access to a nearby fire station. Kinsella — who was a police officer before he joined the fire department — suffered bruises and scratches to his face and a swollen nose, according to police records.
Cellphone video footage posted by COPA shows Kinsella wiping blood from his nose.
It also shows Treacy pointing his gun at black people angrily shouting at him in the middle of 111th. Treacy can be heard yelling, “I’m the f—— police, get the f— back!” as Kinsella stands nearby.
The bartender said a black woman screamed at Treacy: “You think you are tough with that gun? If you’re going to pull it out, you better do something with it!”
Another witness told detectives that African-Americans shouted racial epithets at Treacy.
Treacy waved his gun at them for about 30 seconds before putting it in his waistband, one video shows.
He later told a detective he saw Beal get a gun from a car and rack a bullet into the chamber. He said he alerted Derouin — the off-duty sergeant, who was also on the street and had been heading to work — about Beal’s gun.
Beal’s fiancee’s lawsuit says he was a legal gun owner and that he didn’t know Treacy was a cop. It also says Beal feared for the lives of himself and others and that Treacy wasn’t in “reasonable fear of his life” when he fired. Treacy and Derouin used unreasonable force, the lawsuit says.
Lawyers for the officers and the city have said in court papers that the shooting was justified.
The detectives’ reports don’t discuss Treacy’s recollection of the shooting because the Independent Police Review Authority, the predecessor of COPA, was handling that part of the investigation.
Authorities say Beal pointed his gun toward the off-duty officers. A cellphone video shows him standing behind a car with a gun in his hand.
Derouin yelled, “Drop your gun!” twice, according to the reports.
According to Cook County prosecutors, Beal yelled, “You’re not the only motherf—-s with guns.”
Treacy and Derouin shot Beal after he extended his arm to fire, according to the bartender who was standing outside the restaurant.
The police say Beal had pulled the trigger, but his gun jammed and didn’t fire.
A video shows Kinsella performing chest compressions on Beal to try to save him.
After the shooting, Beal’s brother, Michael Beal, tackled Treacy and put him in a headlock, according to prosecutors.
“F— you, you killed my brother. I’m going to kill you!” they say Michael Beal yelled as Treacy fought to control the gun that Joshua Beal had tried to fire.
Michael Beal, who lives in Indianapolis like his brother did, has been charged with aggravated battery of a police officer and disarming a police officer, both felonies.
Michael Beal told detectives he and his family were driving away from the cemetery when a man he called an “officer” made several attempts to hit his sister’s car, the reports show. He said the car he was riding in stopped in heavy traffic on 111th, and the unidentified “officer” approached him and his family with a gun in hand. Michael Beal said he never attempted to fight anyone.
The videos don’t show the confrontation between the white driver and the people in the funeral procession. Nor do they show Joshua Beal getting shot or Michael Beal struggling with the officers.
• • •
The detectives’ reports obtained by the Sun-Times were part of the criminal investigation of Michael Beal.
The reports paint a picture of a white, segregated neighborhood where black outsiders aren’t particularly welcome. One witness, a 43-year-old white man, told detectives he saw a lot of “colored” people on the street that day. Black people are “out of the norm” in Mount Greenwood, the man said.
In 2012, the Chicago Police Department began watching funerals for black gang members on the Southwest Side after shootings occurred outside several churches. Residents of Mount Greenwood and other neighborhoods in the area have complained about noise and reckless driving in funeral processions.
The videos show some of the vehicles in the funeral procession were blasting music before the shooting. But there’s no indication from the detectives’ reports of any links between gangs and the funeral for the Beals’ cousin, Marcus Washington.
Washington, 26, was shot in the head Oct. 27, 2016, in Indianapolis, and his killing remains unsolved, according to the police there. He was buried in Chicago because he once lived here.
The chaos of what was going on Nov. 5, 2016, is captured in a 911 call from a woman inside a restaurant who reported seeing Treacy standing in the street with his gun drawn. She said she heard a dozen shots being fired.
“There’s a baby shower going on,” the woman told a dispatcher. “I’m hiding under a table in the restaurant.”
And, on a cellphone video, one of the African-Americans in the crowd is heard yelling, “You tried to run her off the road!”
In an interview with the Sun-Times, a white woman who called 911 says she was walking out of a True Value hardware store with her son less than a minute before the shots were fired and saw the black occupants of two cars get out and attack Kinsella after he told them to move their vehicles from a fire lane at a nearby firehouse.
The woman — who asked that she not be named — says she was punched in the back of the head by a teenage girl who was with Joshua Beal and was later charged with battery for hitting her.
“I was attacked for calling 911,” the woman says.
Treacy and Derouin remain on active duty, according to a police spokesman. They couldn’t be reached for comment.
Kinsella told the Sun-Times he didn’t hear any racial slurs in the moments before Beal was shot but declined to say any more.
The fire department’s internal affairs division and City Hall’s inspector general are reviewing the off-duty firefighter’s actions that day, according to city officials who wouldn’t discuss details. An inspector general’s spokeswoman says “the current investigation is ongoing and in its initial stages.”