City investigators have concluded that Chicago police Sgt. John Poulos was justified in killing 19-year-old Kajuan Raye, and that he was telling the truth when he said Raye had a gun — despite no gun being recovered until months after the shooting.
Poulos shot Raye in the West Englewood neighborhood in 2016. He told investigators that while he was chasing Raye, the 19-year-old twice turned and pointed a gun at him, prompting Poulos to fire.
Raye was killed by a single gunshot wound to the back, but no gun was recovered at the scene.
The day after the shooting, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson questioned Poulos’ account of the shooting, saying there was “missing information” in the sergeant’s version of what happened.
But in a report released this month, Civilian Office of Police Accountability investigators concluded that Raye did have a gun, and Poulos acted within policy.
That’s because, nearly three months after the shooting, according to the report, a resident called 911 to say that “her son discovered a handgun in the bushes in front of her home.” The report says Chicago police officers went to her home and recovered a gun.
“Through a combination of circumstantial, physical, testimonial, and social media evidence COPA concludes it likely and reasonable that this firearm was in [Raye’s] possession at the time of his flight,” the report reads. “At the time Sgt. [Poulos] discharged his weapon, he reasonably believed that [Raye] posed an immediate threat to his life, and Sgt. [Poulos’] use of deadly force was within policy.”
Included in the summary report is a photo from Facebook that, according to investigators, shows the recovered gun in Raye’s possession at some point before the shooting.
Johnson attempted to fire Poulos in 2017 for lying in his application to be a police officer because he failed to disclose previous arrests. The Chicago Police Board ruled that those charges came too late and dismissed them.
Poulos also shot and killed a man in 2013. The Independent Police Review Authority found that he acted within department policy in that incident as well.
Raye’s mother is suing the city and Poulos over the shooting, claiming that Poulos acted “with reckless indifference and disregard for [Raye’s] constitutional rights.” Part of the civil complaint is the fact that no weapon was recovered.
A spokesman for the Chicago Police Department and attorneys for Raye’s family did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Patrick Smith is a reporter on WBEZ’s Criminal Justice desk. Follow him @pksmid.