ACLU of Illinois reacts to video of police officer shooting teenager with disabilities


CHICAGO —  On Wednesday, the ACLU of Illinois gave this statement about a Chicago police officer shooting a teenager with disabilities in 2017 that was caught on video.

Karen Sheley, Director, Police Practices Project, ACLU of Illinois.

“On August 13, 2017, Ricky Hayes needed help from the police because he had left his home late at night and gotten lost. Instead of receiving help, an off-duty Chicago Police officer chased and shot him multiple times without even getting out of his vehicle first. As a black teenager with disabilities, Ricky was at a heightened risk for police violence. Thankfully, he survived – but he should never have been shot. The video shows both that there was no justification for the officer to shoot him and that initial stories told by CPD officials about the shooting—that the ‘encounter escalated’—were false.

This kind of tragedy shows exactly why we – along with our community partners and clients – are suing the City of Chicago to reform police interactions with people with disabilities.  The proposed consent decree between the City and the Illinois Attorney General is not sufficient. It only requires that officers receive a memo on engaging with people with disabilities. This is not enough. There needs to be real, in-person instruction on how to recognize and engage with people with disabilities safely. This is too important to be provided through a memo that could be left in a mailbox or tossed in the trash.

Finally, the release of the video today should raise another important question: why was there such a long delay in releasing a video of an August 2017 shooting? For too long, the Chicago Police Department has suspended transparency for the sake of politics. This kind of ‘code of silence’ behavior should have ended with the release of the video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald. For there to be any trust that these kinds of games have ended, an independent monitor and the court must start oversight of this broken department as soon as possible.”