CHICAGO—“When White police officers kill Black men, law enforcement acts as if they don’t know what murder is anymore,” said attorney Andre Grant during a recent press conference on the city’s South Side.
He was referring to Darren Green Jr., a 30-year-old Black man who was shot and killed in Harvey, Ill., a Chicago suburb, by an Illinois State Trooper whose name has not been released. The fatal shooting occurred October 7, 2020.
Atty. Grant is now representing the Green family and argued the shooting was an unlawful killing as he sought to bring attention to the case and a grieving family’s questions, concerns and demands that they get answers and accountability for what happened to the young father.
What was initially a traffic stop quickly turned deadly when an Illinois State trooper shot and killed Darren, who was in the passenger seat, and alleged he had a gun. The incident was captured on police dashcam. The dashcam video aired on a Chicago TV station last year.
Darren’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against the Illinois State Police and wants the trooper responsible for Darren’s death charged with murder. They say the shooting was unjustified and Darren was not a threat.
“You don’t have to be a medical expert; you don’t have to be an expert in excessive use of force to know what a kill shot is. This is easy, this is not complicated,” said Atty. Grant. “The problem is, the cover-up and the problem is law enforcement won’t act right unless there’s mass protests, mass demonstrations and social unrest.”
The attorney May 6 charged the cover-up was the failure by state police to admit the shooting was unnecessary and the agency’s failure to officially give the family the name of the officer involved.
Attorney Brandon Brown, who spoke during the press conference said, “If Black lives truly matter, why haven’t Illinois State Police issued one statement on this incident? The Illinois State Police haven’t released a statement saying that this was an accident, the Illinois State Police haven’t issued a statement saying that Darren Green Jr. was killed because he resisted arrest; they hadn’t said Darren Green Jr. was killed for any reason—they have no explanation. They haven’t been accountable at all. And if Black lives truly matter, that is unacceptable.”
Darren’s relatives describe him as a respectable and loving family man who, like many, they believe was targeted unjustly.
“I want the officer charged for killing my son because he murdered my son coldblooded,” declared Darren Green Sr. in an interview with The Final Call. “He (the state trooper) had every opportunity to—he’s the one who escalated the situation. The other trooper was cool, talking to my son and everything. Christopher Ehlers is the one who escalated everything, he went in the car, pulled the gun out, put it in his waistband then got back in the car with the gun. Then told my son ‘stop resisting.’ How is my son resisting when you’re in the car? In the car with his hands up?”
Atty. Grant and Atty. Brown said Trooper Ehlers fired the fatal shot. The Illinois State Police, however, did not confirm that the officer involved in the shooting was Trooper Ehlers. Atty. Grant also showed a video that he said showed Trooper Ehlers was over aggressive in another situation but he did not show the dashcam video of the shooting.
Lyle Muhammad, Darren’s uncle said, “He was a funny, generous guy and he was a protector. If he thought you were trying to do something to his family or friends, you had a fight on your hands. … He was easy to get along with.
“He was coming home to spend some time with his sons. The only unusual thing about the incident was when police troopers followed them while on the highway, and only pulled them over for their lights out,” he said.
Illinois State Police told The Final Call in a May 6 email, “This investigation is ongoing, and all evidence and facts will be submitted for review upon completion of the investigation to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. To fulfill our commitment to integrity and transparency, additional information will be made public when possible, with the advice and concurrence of the State’s Attorney. In response to specific media inquiries, the Firearm Services Bureau (FSB) can confirm that Green did not have a valid Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) or Conceal Carry License (CCL).”
“I just want justice for my son,” said Mr. Green Sr. “This got to stop ’cause we’re losing our babies to the streets and for what? All we doing, we’re grieving parents and the state obviously don’t care because it’s not one of their kids.”
Atty. Grant told The Final Call that the purpose of the press conference was to pursue a civil case and make the community aware of what is happening. “If we learned anything from last summer that is you cannot cover-up when White people kill Black people, and when White officers kill Black youth,” he said. “This is a community event; lawyers don’t stop the police from killing. The community stops the police from killing.”