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Chicago police are back in hot water after a lawsuit claims an officer shot an unarmed 13-year-old Black boy in the back while he was trying to comply.

According to an excessive force lawsuit, which was filed Thursday, the seventh-grader had raised his hands in the air to surrender to police when an officer opened fire, striking the boy in his back. The lawsuit also claims the bullet severely damaged the young boy’s spine, which could leave him permanently paralyzed.

On May 18, police pulled over a car they believed to have been involved in a carjacking the day before. The officers engaged in a foot pursuit which ended in the shooting of the young Black teenager.

Attorneys Andrew M. Stroth and Steven A. Hart wrote in the filing that the Black teenager, “was unarmed and did as he was instructed. But the officer still shot him — recklessly, callously, and wantonly — right through his back.”

According to the Chicago Police Department, officers engaged in a foot pursuit with the young boy after they spotted a vehicle that fit the description of a stolen car used in a carjacking the day prior. They admitted that no shots were fired at the officer, and have relieved the officer who shot the boy of his duties, but he is still an active member of the Chicago Police Department.

“Desk duty,” said police spokesman Don Terry in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “He’s not going to be patrolling the streets and he won’t be able to arrest people.”

The suit also takes aim at the department’s inadequate pursuit policy and poor training stating, “The department has been agonizingly slow in bringing its pursuit policy up to best-practice standards,” and the shooting “may not have occurred had a sound pursuit policy been in place.”

The young teen’s attorneys also stated in the filing that, “the officer knew or should have known that safer alternatives to a foot pursuit were available.”

The identities of the young boy and the officer who shot him have not been released to the public. Body camera footage of the incident has been reviewed by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, but will not be released to the public because the boy is a minor.

This is not the first time the Chicago Police Department has been questioned about its use of excessive force. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice released a report which called out the department’s pursuit practices.

“We found that officers engage in tactically unsound and unnecessary foot pursuits and that those foot pursuits too often end with officers unreasonably shooting someone — including unarmed individuals,” said the report.


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