2 Chicago cops recommended for firing in Paul O’Neal shooting

Two Chicago Police officers have been recommended for termination for firing at a car as part of traffic stop just before the fatal 2016 shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Paul O’Neal.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson “concurred with the findings” of investigators with the now-defunct Independent Police Review Authority, and in November 2017 recommended officers Michael Coughlin Jr. and Jose Torres for firing, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

Two other officers involved — including the one who fired the fatal shots — were not recommended for firing by IPRA, Guglielmi said.

It’s up to the Chicago Police Board to determine punishment for Coughlin and Torres. Representatives for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which replaced IPRA last September, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The shooting happened the evening of July 28, 2016, after the officers tried to pull over a Jaguar convertible that had been reported stolen earlier that day, police said. The Jaguar was blocked from getting away, but the officers told department officials they fired when the driver tried to take off anyway and ended up crashing into a parked vehicle in the 7300 block of South Merrill.

O’Neal, of the 1700 block of East 70th Street, died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital about an hour and a half after he was shot.

In the following days, Johnson took three officers involved in the shooting off the street. The officers involved were wearing body cameras, and the police vehicles at the scene had their cameras activated.

Days after his death, O’Neal’s mother, Tanisha Gibson, filed a federal lawsuit against the officer who shot him, Jose Diaz. The suit, which is still pending, states that after Diaz shot O’Neal, he kicked him “without lawful justification or excuse” as he was laying on the ground, bleeding.

The suit also says that Coughlin shot at the stolen vehicle driven by O’Neal nine times, striking the officers’ vehicle twice in the process. Torres shot once. The officers shot at the car as it sped down a residential street.

“The shots fired by Officers Torres and Coughlin were in violation of Chicago Police Department general orders governing the circumstances under which firing at a moving vehicle is permissible,” the suit stated. “Officers Torres and Coughlin fired their weapons with no regard for the safety of their fellow officers, the other occupant in [the vehicle driven by O’Neal], or other motorists and members of the public in the residential area.”

O’Neal’s shooting sparked outrage among several high-profile gangs on the West Side.

Less than two weeks after O’Neal died, leaders of the Vice Lords, Black Disciples and Four Corner Hustlers met to discuss plans to shoot Chicago Police officers in response to the O’Neal shooting, the Chicago Sun-Times reported at the time.

The Four Corner Hustlers “provided guns” and had “a sniper in place” though authorities do not know where, according to the alert sent to officers. The Four Corner Hustlers also were supplying the other two gangs with automatic weapons, which all three factions also have agreed to use against police, the alert stated.

No officers were ever shot as a result of O’Neal’s death.

Source: Chicago sun