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Tension high in Chicago after fatal police shooting

By Tariqah Shakir-Muhammad | Last updated: Jul 17, 2018 - 12:17:09 PM

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Members of the Chicago police department scuffl e with an angry crowd at the scene of a police involved shooting in Chicago on July 14. Photo: AP/Wide World photos

CHICAGO—High temperatures and high levels of tension hit the city at the same time as protestors angered of the police killing of a 37-year-old Black barber hit the streets and kept demanding answers despite a quickly released police cam video of the encounter with no sound.

The freeze frame video released by police showed Harith Augustus confronted by officers and that he was apparently armed in a city that allows for legal carrying of concealed weapons. But the video also shows him breaking away from officers in the South Shore community. Officials say the video shows a weapon and the man going for his weapon while running away—prompting a rookie officer to draw his weapon and fire. Not everyone is convinced the video shows the full story and want unedited video with sound from that camera and others on the scene. Police also said the victim could legally carry a weapon but did not have a concealed weapons permit.

Angry residents clashed with cops after the Saturday shooting and marched to a nearby police station following the July 14 tragedy on a major street in the neighborhood. Police released the video within 24 hours of the shooting. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson had hoped the video would bring some calm and fewer fights between residents and cops and end bottle throwing at police officers. Residents countered that they were responding to police aggression.

“In this particular instance after seeing what transpired last night, I have an obligation to this city, to the community and to these police officers to make sure this city is safe and calm,” the police chief told news outlets.

The twenty-second video shows Mr. Augustus being confronted by several cops and an officer attempting to grab his right arm. Mr. Augustus pulls away, spinning his body toward a police vehicle where his shirt lifts and reveals an apparent weapon beneath. After nearly tumbling into a passing vehicle, Mr. Augustus is shot in the street.

An autopsy released the same day revealed Mr. Augustus died of multiple gunshot wounds and his death was ruled a homicide. Supt. Johnson said the video was shown to Mr. Augustus’ mother and stepfather and that he offered his “sincerest condolences.”

Many doubt the sincerity of a police department which has been slow to release body cam video and slow to discipline officers. Several videos from other officers’ body cameras are currently under review. Supt. Johnson was also said to have briefed Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the incident.

Also known as “Snoop,” Mr. Augustus was remembered as a respectful, “quiet,” family-oriented man on the block of East 71st Street. Fellow barber Jason Vaughn recalled his passion for cutting hair and love for the community.

“He loves helping the community,” Mr. Vaughn stated. The killing of Augustus, “a good guy on his way home,” was undeserved, he said.

BLMChicago tweeted: “1. In IL, a concealed carry state, carrying a gun on your person doesnt create a presumption of criminality. 2. W/o a reasonable suspicion of criminality, any police-citizen encounter must be consensual. 3. U have a fundamental right to walk away from any consensual police encounter.”

“Within 3 sec of 45 sec video, the Chicago police officer has her hand on her weapon. Next pic of police cam, at 7 second, shows #HarithAugustus apparently showing his id. I won’t show his murder... NO ONE should have to die this way. #CPACNow,” tweeted Brian Ragsdale.