(CBS) – Some armed suspects would rather run the risk of getting shot by police than surrender their weapons during a confrontation because they fear reprisals from gang leaders, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Monday.
“When I chased people in New York, they used to throw the gun away. We chase people here in Chicago, they keep the guns, and they turn on our officers,” McCarthy told reporters as he took questions about the violent holiday weekend, which left 11 dead and dozens wounded.
Gang members fear if they back down in confrontations with police they will face beatings or financial sanctions from gang leaders, McCarthy said.
He says confrontations between armed suspects and police happened eight times this weekend. Once the gunman got away; twice, they were disarmed without shots fired. In the other instances, police fired in self-defense, wounding five – two of them fatally.
McCarthy says officers show restraint when confronted, too.
“It’s happened to me on countless occasions. We don’t always fire our weapons,” he said.
In fact, they’re doing it less than they used to.
In 2009, 61 civilians were shot by police, 19 fatally. Last year, there were 43 wounded; 13 of them died. All are investigated by the Independent Police Review Authority.
“We send people to the scene, they oversee what the evidence technicians and detectives are doing. They ensure that the integrity of the investigation, as we see it, fully in accordance with what we would expect,” says IPRA’s Scott Ando.
But in displaying some of the guns confiscated by police this weekend alone, McCarthy offered a strong defense to his officers.
“These officers are putting their lives on the line. Does anybody realize what we’re talking about here? These are guns, they kill people. How do you get them? What do you think — people come up to you and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a gun. Arrest me.’ That’s not the way it works.”
McCarthy says with all those confrontations, it’s fortunate none of his officers was killed this weekend. He expressed his condolences to the families of two Indiana officers shot and killed.