Chicago agency shows willingness to side against officers

AP News
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Posted: Jul 22, 2016 5:57 PM

CHICAGO (AP) — The embattled Chicago agency that oversees police misconduct allegations ruled this week that two more officer shootings were not justified, findings that may signal a greater willingness to hold officers accountable than in previous years.

From its 2007 creation to early last month, the Independent Police Review Authority deemed two out of some 400 police shootings unjustified. But it has said in the last two months that three shootings — including the two this week — were unjustified, IPRA data shows.

IPRA documents posted on its website Thursday said that one officer wasn't justified in the fatal 2013 shooting of Ryan Rogers as police investigated robberies in the area. It also said officers were wrong to shoot at Antwon Golatte in a 2015 incident, injuring him as he drove away from an alleged drug transaction.

After the November release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times, critics singled out IPRA for nearly always siding with officers. Mayor Rahm Emanuel replaced IPRA's head last year with a reform-minded ex-prosecutor and said more recently he'd like to replace IPRA entirely with a new agency.

In the 2015 shooting, officers who fired at Golatte said they perceived his SUV as a threat as drove off. But IPRA concluded they weren't in the path of the fleeing vehicle. Similarly, the officer who shot Rogers claimed he was "in fear of my life. I thought (his) vehicle was going to strike me." IPRA determined that officer may have been justified in firing the first three shots, though not the fourth and final shot because Rogers' SUV was far enough away to no longer pose a threat.

IPRA, which doesn't name the officers, says the Chicago Police Department's deadly force policy authorizes police to fire at moving vehicles only to prevent death or serious injury to officers or others. But it instructs officers to move out of the way if the "vehicle is the only force used against them."

IPRA's quarterly report released this month recommends changes to the use-of-force policy.

Citing the McDonald shooting, which touched off weeks of protests, it says officers in some instances "have continued to fire their weapons without making any assessment of whether the additional shots fired were really necessary."

Other things in the report include:

— Advocating for "incorporating provisions that express a stronger, clearer commitment to the sanctity of life."

— Stressing that officers should never draw their weapons merely to intimidate someone but only when they're convinced deadly force will likely be necessary because the act of pointing a gun at someone "has tremendous impact and, as such, is tantamount to the use of force itself."