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Protesters Clash After Off-Duty Cop Shoots Man On Southwest Side

Several heated confrontations erupted on Chicago’s Southwest Side over the weekend after an off-duty Chicago police officer allegedly fatally shot an Indianapolis man coming from a nearby funeral.

Joshua Beal, 25, was shot dead about 3 p.m. Saturday in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood after a fight between two off-duty police officers, one off-duty firefighter and a group of people who recently left a funeral, authorities said. The neighborhood has one of the highest percentages of “law enforcement workers” as residents, according to 2012 census data.

Video posted on social media by Aleta Clark shows two groups of demonstrators clashing Sunday evening near the site of the shooting.

A racially diverse group protesting police violence chanted “Justice for Joshua Beal” and “the whole system is guilty as hell.” One person held a sign that said “Jail All Racist Cops.”

The other group, which was mostly white, chanted “Blue Lives Matter” and “Trump, Trump, Trump.” They held signs that read “Go home animals” and “You ruined your own communities, Don’t ruin ours.”

On Saturday night, Black Lives Matters activists said they joined Beal’s family as they waited for their vehicles to be released from the scene of the shooting. Kofi Ademola, a BLM organizer, claimed white people drove by yelling racial slurs. Videos show people telling the family and activists to “go home.” 

The protests started after police and family gave different accounts of the shooting. 

According to a Chicago police news release, the confrontation started when a vehicle that had “just left funeral services at a nearby cemetery” was “stopped in traffic” in front of a firehouse in the 3100 block of West 111th Street.

Police said an off-duty Chicago firefighter notified the driver the vehicle was illegally blocking a fire lane. The occupants exited the vehicle and an argument and fight ensued, according to the statement.

A nearby off-duty police officer “attempted to assist the firefighter,” according to the statement. An off-duty police sergeant driving to work stopped when he saw the fight and noticed a man with a gun in his hand, police said.

“As the incident continued to escalate and the offender failed to drop his weapon, shots were fired striking the individual multiple times,” according to the statement.

Beal’s sister told the Chicago Sun-Times a different story. She claimed the family was in a funeral procession when an off-duty police officer tried to run a car off the road. She claimed the man never identified himself as an officer before he pulled a gun.

Police alleged Beal had a gun and failed to drop it. On Sunday, a video emerged that “appears to show Joshua Beal pointing a handgun toward police,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

According to the Chicago Tribune, relatives claimed “Beal legally owned the gun and did not fire it.”

The shooting is currently under investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority.

Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ follow her @shannon_h.

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