SOUTH SIDE

Video: Chicago Cops Shoot Teen and Call Him a ‘Bitch Ass Motherfucker’

Just-released footage shows Chicago cops gunning down young Paul O’Neal. The video could cause an already-tense Chicago to snap.

08.05.16 5:55 PM ET

CHICAGO — “Bitch ass motherfucker,” the Chicago police officer says as unarmed 18-year-old Paul O’Neal lays dead or dying on the ground.

“Get your hands behind your back. Fucking shoot at us…”

Except O’Neal never shot at police on July 28. The only shots fired came from multiple officers who shot at the teen as he first fled in a stolen Jaguar, then ran on foot through backyards in the area of 75th and Merrill in the city’s South Shore neighborhood.

“They shot at us too, right?” an officer asks after as O’Neal lays bleeding from a gunshot wound to the back in an unsuspecting citizen’s driveway.

“I shot at the car after it almost hit you,” another officer replies. “Dude, I heard shots and fucking shot at him.”

These were the scenes caught on videos released today by the Independent Police Review Authority. While they don’t make clear who is responsible for the fatal shot, the videos do show that police thought O’Neal was shooting at them during a chaotic car chase that ended with the teen dead on Chicago cement. O’Neal, who had rammed a Chicago police squad car just before he was shot in the back and killed, is black; several of the officers who opened fire that day are white. One appears to be Hispanic.

For more than a week now rumors have been flying within the Chicago Police Department about what actually happened the day O’Neal was killed. A police source told The Daily Beast that one story had O’Neal ramming a squad car and backing up for a second try when a passenger officer opened fire on the teen, but that doesn’t appear to be the case according to the videos released today.

In one body cam video, an officer riding shotgun opens the door of his squad while the car is still moving as O’Neal approaches in the stolen Jag. The passenger officer and his partner unload several rounds, first at the front of O’Neal’s car and then from behind as it passes by. O’Neal then slams head-on into another cruiser before bailing from the car and running toward a nearby house.

The officer and his partner—who was driving the squad car that O’Neal passed on his way to hitting the second police vehicle—then pursue. Both had opened fire on the teen and were steps behind another officer who scaled a gate to chase O’Neal into a backyard.

O’Neal kept running but the cops chased him down.

A few doors down the officers from the first squad car catch up to other cops who were taking O’Neal into custody. In one video, the driver of the first squad car briefly picks up O’Neal’s head before slapping the cuffs on. Blood soaks the teen’s white shirt.

Chicago had been out of the national spotlight after months under the white hot heat of media attention that followed the release of the now-infamous Laquan McDonald video. McDonald, armed with knife, was shot 16 times in October, 2014 by officer Jason Van Dyke and died—and allegations that everyone from former Supt. Garry McCarthy to Mayor Rahm Emanuel were complicit in a wide-ranging cover-up have been rampant. The killing prompted protesters to take to—and take, as department supervisors directed officers working crowd control to stand down, according to police sources—the streets. McDonald’s death also brought in the big guns from D.C. when the Department of Justice showed up to perform its pattern and practice probe.

This latest video may put the Chicago police back under the microscope. The O’Neal shooting also comes at a time when officers are being met with aggressive behavior on Chicago’s streets, a veteran officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Daily Beast. Police are being cut off in traffic and are met with curses at calls for service throughout the city, the officer said.

As a result many cops are reluctant to perform traffic and street stops for fear that they’ll be recorded, becoming the next subject of a viral video that paints police in Chicago as overly aggressive.

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!
By clicking "Subscribe," you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason

Recently, the officer said, a woman had stopped traffic so she could cuss out another woman on the sidewalk. When the officer approached the car and told her to move, she looked at the cop and said, “I don’t give a fuck about the police.”

“So what the fuck am I supposed to do? If I try to take her out of the car you know she’s gonna fight. And then everyone’s going to start recording and then I’m the cop who roughed up a female driver over a traffic stop,” the officer said. “And if I drive away I’m gonna look like a bitch.”

Luckily for the officer, the woman did eventually move her car.

He continued, referencing a story by a left-leaning Chicago media outlet that called for the abolition of traffic stops, and protesters who have said they want to defund the police.

“At some point, we have to ask ourselves as a society whether we want police, or not,” the officer said.

If Chicago’s disdain for cops on the streets wasn’t enough, the department is also in a state of turmoil, according to the officer. Emanuel is calling the shots while his hand-picked chief, Supt. Eddie Johnson, rubber stamps everything sent down from City Hall and acts as the mayor’s puppet.

So why, at a time like this, would an officer involved in a shooting call O’Neal a “bitch ass motherfucker,” possibly stoking the flames of activist outrage that have been burning on low for months?

“Because he obviously didn’t think it was wrong to say,” the anonymous officer lamented to The Daily Beast.

The officers involved in the O’Neal shooting were immediately stripped of police powers by Johnson for the vaguely-defined reason of violating department policy. It could be that some involved in the chase ignored or side-stepped department pursuit directives by trying to box O’Neal in that day. Now they’re being investigated by IPRA, itself a troubled agency that often sides with officers in use of force cases.

Emanuel, who has emerged largely unscathed from the McDonald case, enacted a task force to look into replacing the review agency. It’s a move typical of Chicago—throw bureaucrats and hired hands at a problem, get the media to report on it, and the problem goes away.

Except it doesn’t.

Protests over the O’Neal shooting are planned for this weekend, and even those outside of the Chicago Police Department’s patrol division are being told to carry their riot gear with them, the anonymous officer told The Daily Beast. Prior to seeing the video on Thursday night, while joking he might just stay home today, the officer cautioned snap judgment for those involved in the O’Neal shooting—cops working the same insanely violent streets that have seen more than 300 murders and nearly 2,500 people shot so far this year.

“You show up at a scene, at a chase, and you hear gunshots going off, you don’t know who’s shooting,” he said. “Maybe you think they’re shooting at another copper. You just don’t know.”

As the situation calmed and O’Neal—who had spent the previous night boosting cars from a Chicago suburb—died on July 28, the officers involved in the chase and shooting began to catch their breath. One is seen on body cam video lighting a cigarette. Another notes what the shooting means for him—taking him off the streets.

“Fucking desk duty for 30 days now,” the officer says. “Motherfucker.”