(CBS) – Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson on Saturday said his department is examining how it might retrain officers in the wake of the fatal shooting of unarmed suspect Paul O’Neal last week.
Body-camera video released Friday show a chaotic scene July 28 as officers fired at the 18-year-old African American as he fled in an allegedly stolen car on the city’s South Side. Critics say some of the cavalier comments made by the officers — after O’Neal was fatally wounded in a foot chase – were especially galling.
“Oftentimes when you’re involved in a high-stress situation like that your adrenaline is pumping, and you may say things that you regret later. It’s just human emotion,” Johnson told reporters at a Saturday news conference.
Johnson said he understands why some people are angry by what they saw in the nine video files released Friday.
“A lot of people are upset by what they saw and quite honestly they have a right to be upset. There are a lot of questions to answer and a lot of work to do to continue to build the trust that is so important between the police and community that we serve,” he said.
The potentially most telling video of all – that of a Chicago officer shooting O’Neal in the back – is non-existent because his body camera was not recording. That failure to record is part of an independent investigation. Johnson noted the officers in the O’Neal shooting had been using the body cameras for only a few days when the incident occurred.
Observers say officers erred by firing at O’Neal as he tried to speed away because department protocols prohibit such a tactic unless a motorist is armed and firing at police.
The department’s chief of organizational development, Ann Kirkpatrick, has been tasked with looking into whether there was a break-down in training.
“Superintendent Johnson has asked that I take a hard look at our training and tactics from this incident,” Kirkpatrick said.
Johnson immediately stripped three officers of their police powers after reviewing the circumstances of O’Neal’s shooting. He declined comment on specific actions of the officers, citing investigations.
O’Neal’s death has sparked the latest protests from activists who accuse police of using excessive force when dealing with black individuals or suspects. Demonstrators interrupted Johnson Friday as he tried to read a statement to the media; later, they confronted officers outside Chicago Police Headquarters, though things remained peaceful.