The Chicago Police Department, following new policies set by Superintendent Eddie Johnson during the last police-involved shooting scandal, stripped a sergeant of police powers following the police killing of unarmed 19-year-old Kajuan Raye. This move shows a sign of potential reform progress in the department as it is the strictest administrative punishment the superintendent can levy.
"Having been a police officer for 28 years, I know that this job is not easy and the decision to use force is extremely complex and must be made in seconds without the benefits of formal reviews and deliberations," Johnson said in a statement. "However, based on the little information we know at this point, I have concerns about this incident and feel this decision is in the best interest of the Department and the people of Chicago as we await a methodical and impartial investigation into exactly what transpired.”
Raye, from the city's south suburbs, was shot in the back in what the Cook County Medical Examiner ruled a homicide. The officer, who has yet to be named, claimed Raye pointed a gun at him, but according to Johnson, the police have yet to recover it.
This response to a police-involved shooting is a marked change for the Chicago Police Department, which until fairly recently allowed the city's main police union to act as an official spokesperson for police-involved shootings. The union spread misinformation about the victims of the shootings that invariably painted the officers in a heroic light and the victims in a negative light. Johnson's statement brings to mind a comment he made when he first took over as superintendent earlier this year—that he had "never witnessed police misconduct." Evidently that has now changed.
"I'm sickened," well-known local activist Ja’Mal Green told the Chicago Tribune. "It does not take a day to find a gun. [The cops] messed up. Right now the city has to pay for what it has done," Green said. According to the police department, the city's embattled, soon-to-be-scrapped oversight agency called the Independent Police Review Authority, is investigating the killing.
Sam Stecklow is the Weekend Editor for Fusion.