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Chicago police release video of deadly officer-involved shooting, warn of ‘civil unrest’

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CHICAGO — Chicago police, in a nationwide conference call and bulletin, warned of “civil unrest” and potential violence against cops following the department’s release of video related to an incident in which a black man was fatally shot in the back, two law enforcement officials said Friday.

The officer violated policy in last week’s shooting of 18-year-old Paul O’Neal, the bulletin said. Autopsy results showed O’Neal died of a gunshot wound to the back, WGN-TV reports.

The family of Paul O'Neal, an African-American man, fatally shot in the back by Chicago police last week filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officers alleging wrongful death and excessive force.

Sharon Fairley, head of Chicago’s police oversight board, described the video in a statement as “shocking and disturbing” and offered her condolences to O’Neal’s family and friends.

Fairley said the video can be released without jeopardizing the investigation, even though it will happen before the 60-day period outlined in the city’s transparency policy.

The footage “as shocking and disturbing as it is, is not the only evidence to be gathered and analyzed when conducting a fair and thorough assessment of the conduct of police officers in performing their duties,” said Fairley, chief administrator of Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority.

The police department released the body and dashcam videos of the shooting at noon Friday.

O’Neal family, which filed federal civil rights lawsuit against the officers, was expected to see the video before it’s released to the public. The suit, filed Monday, alleges the officers fired at O’Neal “without lawful justification or excuse.”

The nationwide police bulletin said the shooting was “determined to violate their Department policy… Chicago PD anticipates civil unrest.”

O’Neal was shot and died from his injuries after leading a police chase through the South Side of Chicago. He had been suspected of stealing a car.

The body camera of the officer who fatally shot O’Neal did not record when he opened fire, police said.

The officer who fired the fatal shot was in a car that was struck by the car driven by O’Neal.

Whether the crash had an impact on the camera’s ability to record is under investigation, according to police. Investigators are also looking into whether the officer had turned it on.

Three officers have been relieved of their police powers.

The shooting was the latest to highlight the already tenuous relationship between some communities and police.

Many in the nation’s third-largest city are still reeling from the 2014 Laquan McDonald shooting, which left a Chicago officer facing a murder charge after more than a yearlong delay in releasing dashboard camera footage. And earlier this year, a task force established by the mayor released a report accusing the police of widespread racism.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has told reporters the shooting troubled him.

“If it’s an honest mistake, we’ll get them training, coaching, mentoring and get them back out there. But if it was intentional misconduct, then they have to be held accountable for it,” he told reporters.

Though he cautioned he had not come to any firm conclusions, Johnson said the shooting had left him with “more questions than answers.”

WARNING: Video contains graphic language and content. Viewer discretion advised.

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