CHICAGO (CBS) – A man who police said was a possible robbery suspect and armed with a large knife was fatally shot by officers on Saturday on the South Side. One resident who saw it questioned whether the shooting was necessary.

The witness said an officer used her Taser to subdue the offender, buckling his knees.  He said a second officer pulled up to the scene and fired at least three shots.

Eric Russell, activist and president of the Tree of Life Justice League, said he was leaving a nearby beauty supply store when he witnessed the shooting. “That’s the real problem we have in our community,” he said. “The officer didn’t appear to be in danger [the other] police officer arrived and didn’t readily assess, and began shooting.”

“Once you deploy a Taser and it seems to be effective, no need to escalate to deadly force.”

Bureau of Patrol Chief Fred Waller disputed that account.  He said the suspect was told several times to drop the knife, and that the Taser did  not stop him from getting within three or four feet of the officers, before he was shot.  Waller said three shots were fired and the man was struck twice in the upper torso.

The shooting happened near East 79th Street and Marquette Avenue in the South Shore/South Chicago neighborhood. Officers used their Tasers and shot the man “following a confrontation,” spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted.

The man died at University of Chicago hospital shortly after 4 p.m. “The officers involved will be placed on routine administrative duties for a period of 30 days. The matter remains under investigation and all further inquiries can be directed to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability,” police said.

Police respond to the scene after officers shot a robbery suspect on Saturday (CBS)

Waller said the man had just robbed a nearby Dollar General store and other people on the street. He was running away from police. He then confronted officers and was shot.

Russell said the man was known to be homeless and a second witness saw that the man was armed with a knife. Waller said the knife was eight to 10 inches long.

“It just happened fast. One of the officers kicked the knife out of his hand,” said Brandi Price, who was in the area with her three-year-old.  “They waited like three minutes and then that’s when they started chest compressions.

“It was horrible. I had to run with my child. There were so many people, walking kids.

 

Mike Puccinelli