CHICAGO—Community advocates are demanding police policy changes after video footage was released showing an unarmed Black teenager being shot by a Chicago police officer.
Footage captured from a gas station shows police officers chasing the 13-year-old boy police say bailed out of a suspected stolen vehicle. In the video, the pursuit ended in a police officer now identified as Noah Ball shooting the boy in the back while the boy had his hands in the air.
One of the teenager’s attorneys, Andrew M. Stroth, said the boy is paralyzed from being shot in the back. His name has not yet been released.
“The FBI, the Cook County State’s Attorney office, and the Civilian Office for Police Accountability has an ongoing investigation and they’re evaluating whether or not the officer should be held criminally liable for the shooting,” Atty. Stroth told The Final Call July 25. The shooting took place on May 18.
“My thing is, how many Black and Brown individuals need to be shot, killed or severely injured until the city of Chicago will enact and monitor foot pursuit policy that values the sanctity of life?
“The 13-year-old’s life is never going to be the same again,” he continued. “We can’t turn back time on that but the mother and family want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
The family filed a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department on May 26, alleging that the teenager was unarmed and surrendering to police at the time he was shot. The family argues officer Ball should have had his body camera activated at the time of the pursuit.
Officer Ball’s attorney, Timothy M. Grace, told news sources that his client believed his body camera to be activated and that the 13 year old had, what looked like, to be a gun in his hand. No weapon was found on or near the boy.
Activists believe officer Ball did not have a reason to shoot the teenager and the current “Chicago Foot Pursuits Policy” should include whether a police officer has a right to draw his weapon over a suspected stolen vehicle.
“When it comes to pursuits, the cops think, ‘I’d rather shoot this nigga than run after him,’ ” said community activist Eric Russell. “In my opinion, it is an unjustified shooting just based on the events of the encounter. The kid put his hands up! Black boys are being hunted! There is a larger-than-life target on their backs. He had hopes and dreams just like White boys did. We have White racist cops that don’t give a damn! At the end of the day, there needs to be some accountability.”
The policy was created after the shooting deaths of Adam Toledo and Anthony Alvarez in 2021 made headlines and sparked protests. The policy says that Chicago police officers will no longer be allowed to chase people on foot for minor offenses such as trespassing or vandalism. It will be in effect in August 2022.
Zada Lehman, who commented about the shooting on social media, told The Final Call that she was disgusted over officer Ball’s behavior. “I clearly see (the child) running, with his hands up with nothing in his hands. Why is it always only Black people the police are afraid of and never of White people even when you clearly see they have a weapon?”
She also believes that the police department needs civilians and the Cook County State’s Attorney at each meeting concerning the foot pursuits policy. “It definitely cannot do any harm. At the very least, the police will know they are constantly being watched and held accountable.”
Ms. Lehman continued, “My heart is filled not only with sorrow but with pain and fear that this will happen again.”
—Tariqah Muhammad, Staff Writer