Police killing in Chicago draws protests despite video showing armed suspect
On July 14, 37-year-old Harith Augustus was confronted by Chicago police because he appeared to be armed. As police moved in, Augustus broke free and began to run, reaching for a weapon in his waistband. At that point, officers opened fire.
That's what body cam footage of the shooting released by the Chicago Police Department shows. It comes after a July 15 riot during which several officers and civilians were injured.
The police released the video on the 16th, but protests are continuing despite the clear evidence that the shooting was justified.
Protesters are calling for the Chicago Police Department to release additional footage, including footage with sound. They also want police to release the name of the officer who shot Augustus.
Violent protests erupted Saturday after the shooting. At least four protesters were arrested after people threw rocks, empty bottles and bottles of urine at officers. Police could be seen using batons on demonstrators. Several officers were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.
Augustus' friends called him "Snoop" and said he was a local barber who carried a gun for protection. Police said Augustus had a valid FOID card, which allows him to own a gun. He did not have a concealed carry license, which would have allowed him to carry the gun in public.
A police shooting is rarely more cut and dried than this. A man with a noticeable bulge in his waistband is confronted by the police. He starts running away and reaches for the gun. Officers have seconds to make a decision and, by all the evidence released, made the correct one.
But truth doesn't matter. Only the narrative matters. It is a toxic narrative that has already led to violence and brands the police guilty of murder, even when the facts say otherwise. The narrative says police officers deliberately target black people for murder, that they're out of control. This ludicrous narrative serves only to terrify black residents of high-crime neighborhoods who, in Chicago, have had occasion in the past to distrust officers who would routinely beat confessions out of suspects. By most accounts, the reforms instituted following these revelations have improved the performance of the police.
It would help if Chicago's political leaders stood by the police in these situations. Fat chance.
In his first public comments since the weekend fatal police shooting of a barber in South Shore sparked protests, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday urged Chicagoans to take a step back and use this as a teachable moment.
Emanuel declined to say whether he thought officers acted appropriately in the shooting death of 37-year-old Harith Augustus. The mayor said he would wait for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability to complete its investigation before taking a position.
"I don't think at this point while they're doing that my energy's going to be on trying to characterize something, so much as help all of us learn from this and learn for the future," Emanuel said.
The black activists are in their element. During these protests, they control the streets. Ginning up outrage against cops is their specialty, and if they incite a riot, all the better.
It's not that there isn't clear evidence that police acted lawfully. It's that the evidence doesn't matter. The city could release 50 videos all showing the same thing, and the activists would continue to find fault with the police department.
It makes you wonder why police departments are requiring body cams in the first place.