CHICAGO (Fox 32 News/AP) - Video footage released Tuesday shows an off-duty Chicago police officer shooting a developmentally and intellectually disabled black teenager.
Riccardo Hayes was shot by Officer Khalil Muhammad on August 13, 2017 as the teen walked on the city's South Side, according to a lawsuit. Hayes was struck in the arm and chest, but survived the shooting. The American Civil Liberties Union says Hayes had wandered away from his home and his caretaker called police, informing them he was autistic.
According to an incident report, Officer Muhammad said he shot Hayes because he posed an imminent threat of battery.
The sergeant's call to 911 was among the audio files released.
"The guy, like, he was about to pull a gun. Walked up to the car, and I had to shoot," Muhammad told a Chicago Fire Department dispatcher.
Police initially called the shooting an armed confrontation, but Superintendent Eddie Johnson later said Hayes had no weapon.
The initial assertion of a confrontation mirrors statements by police after the 2014 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Jason Van Dyke was convicted earlier this month of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the slaying. Despite video to the contrary, Van Dyke and other officers on the scene claimed McDonald was acting aggressively before the shooting.
The grainy security video released Tuesday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability shows Hayes running along a sidewalk before stopping. The off-duty officer then stops the SUV they're driving and gets out. Hayes takes a few steps toward the vehicle before the officer shoots him.
"As a black teenager with disabilities, Ricky was at a heightened risk for police violence," said Karen Sheley of the ACLU of Illinois in a statement. "Thankfully, he survived - but he should never have been shot."
Chicago police confirm to FOX 32 that the officer involved in the shooting has been suspended with pay during the investigation.
"The video shows both that there was no justification for the officer to shoot him and that initial stories told by CPD officials about the shooting - that the 'encounter escalated' - were false," Sheley said.
"Against the backdrop of Officer Jason Van Dyke's recent conviction for the murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, this new shooting video of an African-American teenager highlights the ongoing need for police reform in Chicago," founder of the Invisible Institute Jamie Kalven said in a statement. "Despite Ricky's age and height, everything about his demeanor is childlike. Just before Ricky was shot, he was wandering his neighborhood, skipping and singing to himself, as shown on surveillance video. Like Laquan, he was also a ward of the state."
COPA released the following statement: "Today COPA released video, 911 calls and other materials of an officer involved shooting that occurred on Sunday, August 13, 2017. The delay in the release of this video was the direct result of the strict prohibitions of the Juvenile Court Act and the research necessary to ensure that release did not otherwise violate state law.
COPA reiterates its commitment to transparency and continues in its efforts to build public trust while conducting fair and objective investigations in a timely and transparent manner."
The Invisible Institute is a journalism production company on the South Side of Chicago.