CHICAGO (AP) — An autopsy report released Wednesday shows that Paul O’Neal, the black man shot and killed last month by a Chicago police officer during a chaotic chase, died of a single gunshot wound.
The one shot hit O’Neal on the right side of the back, the report said. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office reported that toxicology tests also indicate that the 18-year-old O’Neal didn’t have drugs in his system when he was shot on July 28.
Authorities said shortly after the shooting that O’Neal was shot in the back but did not say at the time how many times he was struck or the exact location where the bullet hit O’Neal. The report released Wednesday sheds some light on the chaotic scene in which officers fired repeatedly at O’Neal as careened down the street in a stolen vehicle.
Video released earlier this month shows a stolen car being pursued by officers as it blows through a stop sign. Before gunfire breaks out, the suspect sideswipes one squad car and then smashes into another as officers open fire. The fatal bullet was fired after he exited the stolen car and was running from police. Video also shows police handcuffing the mortally wounded O’Neal.
The medical examiner’s investigator reports being told by a detective that after O’Neal jumped from the vehicle, shots were fired by “other unidentified officers on the scene and possibly by O’Neal.” Then, the investigator wrote, another officer who was not identified by name, believed the shots were being fired by O’Neal and fired his Glock 9mm handgun five times.
Police have said that O’Neal was not armed at the time, though in recently released reports, there have been indications that officers believed he was, including one officer who in a report said O’Neal did not comply with police commands while he was “reaching into his waistband.”
The shooting itself is not on video because the body camera worn by the officer who fired the fatal shot was not operating at the time. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has said that the officer had only received the body camera about a week earlier and may not have been proficient in using it.
Some community leaders have expressed doubts about the police account, saying they suspect the body camera was left off on purpose by the officer.
That officer and two other officers who opened fire at O’Neal when he was driving the stolen vehicle have been stripped of their police powers, with Superintendent Eddie Johnson saying that the officers may have violated department policy.