The incident happened early in the morning of September 5 in Chicago’s Vittum Park as police were responding to a stabbing in the area. While trying to apprehend the suspect, a fight ensued in which the man was killed. On Thursday, COPA, Chicago’s Civilian Police Accountability Office, released materials related to the incident, including graphic footage from body cameras showing the fatal confrontation in all its intensity.
In the videos, the suspect, a large African American man, is seen standing by a bush as officers approach. They order him to put his hands up and warn him not to reach for anything. The man instead picks up a bag from the ground and walks towards the police, only to be tasered in response. As he falls down, it becomes clear that he is also carrying a knife behind the bag.
Incredibly, he manages to overcome the effects of the stun gun and rushes towards the female officer who tasered him, the knife still in his hand. He grabs her by her ballistic vest while two other officers open fire, shooting him multiple times before he collapses to the ground. The suspect, later identified as 34-year-old Shaon Jermy Ochea Warner, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said Warner was attempting to stab the female officer when they opened fire and that her protective vest prevented serious injury. While the footage is not fully clear, there is little doubt that the man was in a position to harm the officer.
Reactions to the footage were polarized, as could only be expected in a country where police are widely accused of using excessive and too often deadly force, especially when dealing with members of the African American community. Supporters of law enforcement say it shows why cops need to be armed with lethal weapons while on patrol.
This video is the example that should be used nationwide every single time you see someone use the argument, "Well, why didn't the police just use a taser instead of shooting him!" Unreal.
— whitesox261 (@whitesox261) October 1, 2020
Others say that when unarmed black men are killed by police on a regular basis, even this incident is not as clear-cut as their opponents believe.
If the cop is trying to kill you, I would try to fight for my life too.
— Franfran2424 (@franfran2424) October 2, 2020
He actually deserved what he got no one is arguing about armed suspects being shot it’s the unarmed that’s the problem
— PROUD STRAIGHT BLACK MAN (@Reerich2) October 2, 2020
Events prior to the shooting of Warner may give fuel to this sentiment. Shortly before the confrontation in the park, the same officers handcuffed and pinned to the ground another black man they found walking in the street. The officers greeted him with tasers aimed, apparently believing he was somehow involved in the initial stabbing. When it later became clear that he was not involved, a black officer offered his “sincere apologies” and promised to make amends for the forceful takedown minutes earlier.
In a statement on the materials released, COPA stressed it has not reached a conclusion in its investigation of whether the use of deadly force against Warner was justified, saying the probe was in the “early stages.”
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