Attorney Blasts Chicago Investigation Into ‘Racially Charged’ Police Shooting
Updated at 9:05 p.m.
The fiancee of Joshua Beal filed a new version of her lawsuit against the city on Thursday over Beal’s 2016 shooting death at the hands of Chicago police during a racially-charged confrontation in the Mt. Greenwood neighborhood.
The amended complaint alleges that Officer Joseph Treacy, who was off-duty when he shot Beal, used the n-word and told Beal and his friends “you black b----es don’t belong here.” The complaint also alleges that Treacy used an unregistered weapon to kill Beal, as previously reported by WBEZ. And that Treacy owned a total of eight guns he failed to register with the Police Department, including an AR-15, which is commonly referred to as an assault rifle.
“What our allegations are about is, you don't scream fire in a movie theater. You don't scream at African Americans that are leaving a funeral ... and tell them to get out of the neighborhood,” Blake Horwitz, attorney for Beal’s fiancee Ashley Phifer, said. “You especially don't do it if you're representing the city of Chicago.”
An attorney for Treacy could not be reached for comment. In a court filing, Treacy denies saying the things alleged. He did acknowledge using an unregistered gun in the shooting and owning eight unregistered firearms in total.
Treacy is legally allowed to own firearms, however Police Department policy requires officers to register all guns they own with the department.
In June, Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates police shootings, described the shooting as “racially charged.” It determined that Treacy and Sgt. Thomas Derouin were justified in shooting Beal because Beal raised his gun before the officers opened fire. But in announcing the decision, the agency also said it had opened a “companion investigation” into the incident.
Court records show the agency has recommended a 90-day suspension for Treacy, and that Treacy violated police policy when he shot Beal with the unregistered gun.
Treacy has already been stripped of his police powers because of his connection to two officers who were charged in federal court with allegedly stealing drugs and money they seized in illegal searches. Federal prosecutors intend to call Treacy as a witness in the upcoming trial of Sgt. Xavier Elizondo and Officer David Salgado.
Horwitz said the city’s decision to investigate the officer’s use of force separately from the rest of the incident was a “deceitful” attempt by the agency to keep the complete story hidden. He also said Treacy’s connection to Elizondo and Salgado should have been a part of the investigation.
“They take a slice of the story, and they say, ‘Ah, he's exonerated,’” Horwitz said. “What they don't [do] is complete the story and say, talk about the gun that was used to kill my client.”
Horwitz claimed the entire city investigation into Beal’s death was marred by investigators asking leading questions and failing to ask follow-up questions.
“A proper investigation wasn’t done,” Horwitz said.
In a statement, Ephraim Eaddy, the spokesman for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, said he could not answer questions about the investigation into Treacy’s gun because it is still under review.
“Our commitment is to conduct thorough and timely investigations, giving careful consideration to the facts and evidence and to provide appropriate disciplinary recommendations as constrained by law and precedent,” Eaddy said in a statement.