Trial Underway For Store Owner Shot By Police After Thieves Fled | WBEZ
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Trial Underway For Store Owner Shot By Police After Thieves Fled

A federal jury is expected to begin deliberations Thursday in a case involving Chicago Police officers who shot a store owner who had just been robbed. Bassil Abdelal is suing police and the city of Chicago over the 2012 incident.

In March of 2012, Abdelal was closing up his beauty supply store on the West Side of Chicago. A man knocked on the door and asked Abdelal if he could buy some barrettes. Abdelal unlocked the door and got the item for the man, but the man ran off. Abdelal believes that was a set-up to get him to unlock the door. Shortly after, three masked men forced their way in the store.

At gunpoint, Abdelal and his father-in-law were forced to shut down the store electricity. The robbers wanted to avoid being caught on surveillance cameras. The power was turned on momentarily for Abdelal to open the cash register where there is less than $200. At one point, one of the robbers gets a call and they all suddenly leave the store. They got word that police were responding to the robbery. As they fled the scene, they dropped two guns.

Abdelal said that after the last robber left the store, he went outside to pick up one of the guns to protect himself. Abdelal said immediately upon picking up the weapon, he was shot multiple times. A number of officers responded to the scene, but Officers Miguel Torres, Thomas Petrenko and Rolando Ruiz were the ones who shot at Abdelal.

The trial had been delayed a number of times over the years, but it finally began on Monday.

In opening statements, Abdelal’s attorney, Brendan Gallagher, said officers shot Abdelal six times. It took him a long time to finally be able to care for himself, but some permanent damage still prevents him from doing activities he once did. Gallagher said the police used excessive force and concocted a story to cover up their wrong doing. 

City defense attorney Marion Moore said Abdelal was shot because he came out of the store pointing a gun at officers. She said he did not drop the weapon when he was commanded to do so. She said the officers weren’t confronted with a victim. They were confronted with a person pointing a gun at them, and they were in fear for their lives. She said it wasn’t a mistake on the part of the officers; It was misjudgment on Abdelal's part for picking up the gun.

This week, attorneys asked witnesses step by step the timeline of events. All agree that a robbery took place and that Abdelal had a gun that day. Jurors will have to decide whether Abdelal indeed pointed the gun at officers, or if officers opened fire unjustifiably.

Closing statements and jury deliberations are expected to begin on Thursday.

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