A jury ruled Tuesday that a Chicago Police Department officer who shot and killed Christian Green—a 17-year-old black teenager—during a police chase in 2013 was unjustified in his actions.
The jury’s decision concludes three days of deliberating over a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by Green’s mother, Patricia Green. They awarded Green’s family $350,000 in damages.
Security camera footage released during the trial shows Green fleeing on foot from police officers on the Fourth of July 2013, trying to throw a gun into a garbage can along the way. In the video, the gun rebounds out of the can. Green stops and picks it back up.
Officer Robert Gonzalez said he shot the teenager because Green was aiming his gun at the officers. He fired 11 bullets, one of which hit Green in the back and killed him. Green’s gun was found 75 feet from his body.
Testimony from a witness, Leticia Whitehead, was presented in court last week. She said she saw Green running from the officers, but that he never turned around and aimed his gun at them.
The jury decided that the officer could not legitimately have feared for his life when he fired the shots.
An internal investigation in 2014 cleared the officer of any wrongdoing and he did not face any disciplinary action. Green’s mother’s attorney disputes the legitimacy of that process, the Chicago Tribune writes:
Henderson has alleged that a shoddy investigation by the Police Department and the Independent Police Review Authority allowed Gonzalez and his colleagues to conspire to get their stories straight before they were interviewed about the shooting. The much-maligned IPRA ruled in September 2014 that the shooting was justified.
Chicago PD said they could not comment on whether the decision will lead to a review of the internal investigation or disciplinary action against Gonzalez.
A Department of Justice investigation into the Chicago PD’s use of force and general conduct found widespread civil rights abuses by police, especially through use of force against black boys and men.
The report found that “The City received over 30,000 complaints of police misconduct during the five years preceding our investigation, but fewer than 2% were sustained, resulting in no discipline in 98% of these complaints.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, meanwhile, has blamed an increase in violent crime in Chicago on anti-police brutality protests, and tried—before being blocked by a federal judge—to begin walking back reform plans for other police departments around the country which have undergone similar DOJ reviews for their lack of accountability.