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Chicago police release body camera footage of man fatally shot by officers

Protesters angry about the killing took to the streets on Saturday in a city that’s struggled with police shootings.

Screengrab from the body cam video footage released by police of the incident.
Screengrab from the body cam video footage released by police of the incident.
Image: Chicago Police Department via AP

A MAN KILLED by Chicago police had a gun in a holster at his hip and was shot multiple times as he ran away, spun around and reached toward his waist, footage released from an officer’s body-worn camera has shown.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said it’s the quickest he has ever ordered such video released and that he hoped to dispel rumours that Harith Augustus (37) was unarmed. He also hoped that making the 30-second clip public would prevent another violent confrontation between residents and officers.

Protesters angry about the killing took to the streets on Saturday in a city that’s struggled with police shootings, especially against black men and other minorities. Some threw rocks and bottles at officers – including ones filled with urine – and police pulled people to the ground and hit them with batons.

“The community needs some answers and they need them now,” Johnson told reporters yesterday.

“We can’t have another night like last night.”

He said Augustus’ family was in favour of releasing the video for the same reason.

Four protesters were arrested in the clash, and some police officers suffered minor injuries. Two squad cars also were damaged.

A protest and march yesterday after the video’s release was calmer, with some demonstrators holding a moment of silence for Augustus, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Video footage

It’s not fully clear why officers initially approached Augustus. On Saturday, patrol chief Fred Waller said officers patrolling on foot tried to question Augustus over a “bulge around his waistband” that suggested he was armed.

The video, which lacks sound, shows four officers approaching Augustus on Saturday outside a store on the city’s South Side. An officer points to Augustus’ waist and he backs away. Three officers try to grab his arms and he tries to get away, backing into a police cruiser as his shirt flies up, showing the gun.

Source: Associated Press/YouTube

The footage pauses and zooms in on the weapon, which police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi yesterday said was done to ensure a semi-automatic handgun in its holster and two bullet magazines tucked into Augustus’ waist could be seen clearly.

Augustus then runs away and into the street as a police SUV drives up. He spins and darts between the SUV and the police cruiser as he reaches toward his waist.

Augustus did not fire his weapon and the footage does not show him pulling the gun out of its holster.

Police also released a 50-second slow-motion clip showing Augustus reaching toward his waist. It’s not clear if he was going for the weapon.

Guglielmi said Augustus did appear to try to grab something at his waist.

Johnson would not elaborate on why officers had initially approached Augustus.

Death

Medical examiners said Augustus died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Augustus had no recent arrest history, Guglielmi said, without elaborating. He had a valid firearm owners’ identification card but detectives have found no documentation that he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, Johnson said.

Gloria Rainge, who lives in the area, told the Sun-Times that Augustus – known in the Grand Crossing neighbourhood as “Snoop” – worked at a barbershop and had a 5-year-old daughter.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson called the shooting a tragedy and said in a statement that it’s a blessing Augustus didn’t have his daughter with him Saturday.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates shootings involving officers, said it was analyzing the video and asking anyone who may have captured phone footage to share it with the agency.

It was at least the third time in the last two weeks that a Chicago police officer shot someone.

Chicago has a troubled history of police shootings. The city erupted in protest in 2015 after the release of a video showing a white police officer shot a black 17-year-old, Laquan McDonald, 16 times a year earlier.

The officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with murder. McDonald’s death led to the ouster of the police chief and a series of reforms meant to prevent future police abuses and to hold officers accountable.

Jackson referenced the case as he called for video into Augustus’ shooting to be released.

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Associated Press

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