CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Police Board has ruled that two officers will be fired for the 2016 shooting that killed a teen named Paul O’Neal.
Officers Michael Coughlin and Jose Torres were fired Thursday for the incident.
On July 28, 2016, while on duty in a marked squad car, Coughlin and Torres received a radio report that other officers were chasing a stolen Jaguar. It turned out that the Jaguar was being driven by O’Neal and a passenger who was a minor, the Police Board said.
The officers drove to 75th Street and Merrill Avenue in South Shore, the Police Board said.
Torres was driving the squad car, while Coughlin unholstered his gun – a 9mm Glock 19, police said. Once they arrived in the area, in an effort to keep the vehicle from escaping, Torres drove the wrong way down a one-way street and then stopped the squad car in the middle of the street to block access, the Police Board said.
Afterward, the Police Board said the following events happened in rapid succession. After blocking the street with the squad car, Torres got out and moved onto the grass near the sidewalk. Afterward, the Jaguar appeared – driving north on Merrill Avenue toward the squad car blocking the road with an unmarked police vehicle chasing behind it, the Police Board said.
Coughlin got out of the squad car with his gun raised and started shooting at the moving stolen car right away, the Police Board said. The stolen vehicle kept going north on Merrill Avenue and ended up passing the squad car, but did so by veering toward the area where Torres was standing on the grass, the board said.
Torres jumped out of the way, while Coughlin went on shooting at the car, the board said. Video showed that the when the stolen car was passing Officer Torres, Officer Coughlin was shooting not only at the stolen car itself, but in Torres’ direction, the board said.
The car kept going anyway, past Coughlin and Torres and toward another police vehicle occupied by two other officers who were responding to the scene. Coughlin kept shooting at the rear of the stolen vehicle, and Torres fired one shot at the car too, the board said.
The Jaguar ended up crashing into the second police vehicle, and the video footage showed that Coughlin and Torres were not only shooting in the direction of the Jaguar, but also toward the other two officers in the second police car, the board said.
All of this happened in a period of six seconds, the board said.
O’Neal was killed by one gunshot wound to the back, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office confirmed.
Police at the time said O’Neal, 18, refused to stop the vehicle and “rammed head on” into a marked squad car, injuring two officers. After impact he got out and ran.
The medical examiner’s office report said, “During the foot pursuit shots were fired by other unidentified officers on the scene and possible by O’Neal,” though it was later determined that O’Neal was unarmed.
O’Neal was struck by a single bullet in the right side of his back, according to the report.
The Police Board ruled that Officer Coughlin endangered everyone around him the way he was firing his gun, while Officer Torres violated and endangered people rules by driving down a one-way street and parking the squad car in the middle of the street to try to keep the stolen Jaguar from proceeding – when in fact, there was room for the Jaguar to pass and hit another squad car.
The board found Coughlin and Torres guilty of all the internal charges against them.