The family of Paul O'Neal, an African-American man fatally shot in the back by Chicago police last week, filed a federal lawsuit against the officers alleging wrongful death and excessive force. O'Neal was unarmed. The lawsuit, filed August 01, 2016, alleges that the police officers fired at O'Neal "without lawful justification or excuse."
The lawsuit names the Chicago Police Department and the officers involved in the shooting, which has not been publicly named. Three officers have been relieved of their duties in connection with the shooting, however.
- The 18-year-old young man was shot and killed following a police chase through Chicago after being suspected of stealing a car.
- The body camera of the Chicago police officer who fatally shot O'Neal was not recording when he fired his weapon into O'Neal's back.
- The officers had just received their body cameras 8 to 10 days earlier, but why they weren't recording is still not clear.
City on Edge
The shooting of O'Neal is just the latest incident to put pressure on the already fragile relationship between Chicago residents and the police. The nation as a whole has been having a very much needed conversation as of late about the use of force and the shooting of unarmed black men.
The issues of body cameras, police accountability, and racial profiling have been inescapable lately.
National groups, like #BlackLivesMatter, have even formed in response.
Chicago is still under pressure from the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald, which left a Chicago officer facing a murder charge. The nation had to wait more than a year to see what happened that night, and it turned out to be shocking. In the video, McDonald can be seen walking away from officers when one of them opens fire for 15 seconds, delivering 16 bullets to McDonald's body.
Earlier this year, a task force established by the mayor of Chicago released a report accusing the police of widespread racism.
A Nation Reeling
Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile, and Freddie Gray are just a handful of unarmed people who were killed by police in the last two years. The full list would be extensive (and convenient since no national database exists).
According to mappingpoliceviolence.org, 102 black men were killed in 2015 alone. In all, the site claims that unarmed black men are shot 5 times more often than unarmed white men .
In Charlotte, North Carolina this past weekend, police shot a deaf and mute man after he led them on a pursuit back to his neighborhood. There are few details about what happened, why they fired, or if anyone knew the man had no way of communicating with the police officers. Dash camera footage is still being gathered.
Police officers and other law enforcement officials have a duty to protect citizens and enforce the laws of society. The public relies on them to protect and serve. Most officers do just that. However, sometimes an officer makes a bad decision, or lets some other emotion guide them, and kills a person who they didn't need to. With the recent wave of shootings and their publicity, police brutality and misconduct have come under the microscope. When an officer steps outside of the authority granted to them by US citizens and kills an unarmed person, justice must be served and compensation delivered.
Police shootings are not the only way that people are wrongfully killed in the US. People die from mechanical failures at work, at the hands of a drunk driver, or from wrongly prescribed medication. When any of these situations occur and a family member is no longer with you because of it, compensation must be sought to hold those accountable and help out with expenses. You may have the right to regain loss of benefits, loss of companionship, medical bills, and funeral cost, loss of future earning power, and punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer for causing the ultimate tragedy.
When selecting a wrongful death attorney, it is imperative that you scrutinize their experience in handling and litigating this unique type of case. Many personal injury law firms either do not litigate or have a reputation for being hesitant. At , we are committed to zealously pursuing and have the necessary resources to see a case through a jury trial, if necessary. If your loved one was killed because of the negligence or wrongful actions of another, contact the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA in Clearwater at (727) 451-6900.