(CBS) – CBS 2 Legal Analyst reviewed the newly released body-camera video showing events leading up to the fatal police-involved shooting of car-theft suspect Paul O’Neal last week. These are some of his observations.
Miller says the officers appear to have violated a Chicago Police Department policy that bars officers from firing at a moving vehicle.
“I think the officers are going to say they were acting in self-defense by firing their weapons and they had a right to do it,” Miller tells CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini.
The department’s deadly force policy says “firing into a moving vehicle when the vehicle is the only force used against the sworn member or another person” is not allowed. Though the officers could lose their jobs for a policy violation, Miller notes it is not against state law for officers to fire when they are in fear for their lives.
“I think the officers were perhaps justified under state law in firing their weapons at the vehicle,” Miller says.
Another potential problem involves a police officer in a passenger seat who gets out and fires his weapon after the car. He hits the hood of his squad car and shoots in the direction of his own partner.
“He could have killed his partner. No question about it. His partner was in the line of fire,” Miller says.
The officers continue to shoot at the vehicle as it heads in the direction of more fellow officers in another squad up the street. O’Neal’s vehicle crashes head-on into the squad car, and one of the officers in that vehicle can be heard later on his body camera explaining that he didn’t know who was firing at him — his own department members or the fleeing suspects.
“Shots were coming at us when the car was coming at us. That’s all I heard was shots. I don’t know if they fired at not.”
Miller says the video clearly shows the police were confused by all their own gunfire. O’Neal was not armed, police have said.
The camera on the officer who fatally shot O’Neal was not working. That is under investigation.
“These videos don’t answer the question as to whether or not this officer was justified in shooting this young man in the back,” Miller says of the existing video.
Finally, it appears while O’Neal is down on the ground bleeding from his back that after he is cuffed nobody renders any medical aid to him. The department says officers are not trained for that.