An analysis of police body-camera video showing the actions of Chicago officers who shot at car-theft suspect Paul O’Neal raise questions about the extent and quality of the Police Department’s training for its 12,000 officers, reports the Chicago Tribune. O’Neal, 18, was killed by police on July 28. Body cams captured a chaotic scene touched off when two officers shot at a stolen Jaguar driven by O’Neal as it moved past them — an apparent violation of department policy and a decision that appears to have led another officer to believe O’Neal had opened fire at police. The unarmed teen was shot in the back in the backyard of one home after a short foot chase and died.
The videos depict the officers’ routine response to a stolen car report escalating, within seconds, into open gunfire on a residential street and more gunshots behind a private home. The department earlier this year announced mandatory two-day training for officers on tactics that emphasize decelerating conflict to avoid deadly force. The classes are still being devised, and experts said the O’Neal shooting underscores their need. “Without the investment and the structure and the capacity to provide ongoing training on use of force, officers are not going to have the skills or feel comfortable utilizing a variety of options when dealing with someone who is behaving unpredictably,” said Alexa James of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “We are not giving officers the tools they need to do their job with the least amount of force and the most professionalism.”