City, Police Officer Sued in Controversial Shooting of Teen
The mother of a teenager fatally shot by a police sergeant the night before Thanksgiving filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the officer and the city.
Nineteen-year-old Kajuan Raye died after being shot in the back Nov. 23, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, which ruled the shooting as a homicide.
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday in front of Chicago Police Department headquarters, Raye’s 15-year-old sister, Kaya, said she is still in shock over her brother’s death.
“We're going to get justice for my brother,” she said. “This has got to stop. It's hitting home now.”
The lawsuit accuses the officer, who is identified as Sgt. John Poulos, with “unjustified and excessive use of force.” The family’s lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money from the city.
According to a statement from the Chicago Police Department, the sergeant received a call of a “battery in progress” in the West Englewood neighborhood and told investigators Raye matched a description of a suspect. The sergeant said Raye turned around twice during a foot chase and pointed a gun at him, the statement said, but investigators have so far not found a weapon.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson stripped the sergeant of his police powers a few days after the shooting. Johnson said there was “missing information” in the sergeant’s timeline of events leading up to the shooting.
Poulos declined to comment on the lawsuit when reached at his home Wednesday.
Poulos was involved in another fatal shooting, according to a report from the Independent Police Review Authority. In 2013, Poulos was off-duty when he confronted a man allegedly breaking into a vacant apartment, the report said. Poulos told investigators the man repeatedly threatened him before charging at him as he removed a metallic object from his waistband, the report said.
No weapon was found, but investigators did find a “large chrome-colored” watch near the dead man, the report said, adding the shooting was ruled justified.
Poulos has also faced six complaints of police misconduct since 2012, according to city data collected by the non-profit Invisible Institute. The Independent Police Review Authority disciplined Poulos on one complaint, which said Poulos tripped during a foot chase in 2012 and “accidentally discharged his firearm,” according to the Invisible Institute, adding that Poulos received a written reprimand.
Attorney Michael Oppenheimer, who represents Raye’s family, said the teenager’s death could have been prevented.
“If he [Poulos] had been taken off the streets, Kajuan would be alive today,” Oppenheimer said.
Raye was one of five people who were shot by police this month. All of the shootings are under investigation by IPRA, the city agency tasked with probing police shootings.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters Tuesday that Johnson will evaluate each shooting individually and not “lump” them all together.
Emanuel also said officers face a challenging time, as efforts to hold police more accountable come as the city faces more than 700 homicides this year so far.
“There is an element of violence in our neighborhoods that police are confronting -- very difficult situation -- and we’re asking for a lot of change on them,” Emanuel said.
You can read the federal lawsuit filed Tuesday below.