A federal judge in Chicago ordered on Thursday to release footage from 2013 that shows Cedrick Chatman, an unarmed black 17-year-old, being shot to death by police.
Chatman was killed while running from the police on foot after they spotted him in a car that had been reported stolen.
Chicago city officials had originally filed a protective order to keep the video out of the public eye, saying that its release would sway a potential juror pool. But Wednesday night, they retracted that stance, saying that they would release the video in an attempt to be more transparent with the public.
Judge Robert W. Gettleman said Thursday in court that he was “disturbed” by how the city handled the case and the lawyer’s last-minute decision to show the video. “I went to a lot of trouble to decide this issue,” said Judge Gettleman, later adding, “This should not have happened the way it did.”
The video’s release comes at a time when Chicago city officials are facing increased public pressure and questions for how they handle police shootings. Another video, which was released in November, shows the death of 16-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by Chicago police.
Stephen R. Patton, head of Chicago’s Law Department, said after the announcement on Wednesday night that the city is working to find balance between public transparency and protecting the confidentiality of investigations. Patton said that Chicago city officials realize that the protective order process is outdated.
The Chatman family said they support the decision to release the video, but question the timing, the family’s attorney, Brian Coffman, said.
“The city of Chicago has had not only the last month and a half, they’ve had over two and a half years to be transparent in this case,” Coffman said. The family has filed a wrongful death suit against the city of Chicago.
Officer Kevin Fry has said he felt that his life, and that of Officer Lou Toth, were in danger after he saw Chatman holding a dark object. At the time, Chatman was holding a box for a smartphone.
The video showing the shooting was captured by cameras mounted on traffic signals on the south side of Chicago. Gettlement said that in the video, it is hard to distinguish “exactly what Mr. Chatman’s position was or what he had in his hand” in the moments before the shooting, The New York Times reported.
Andy Hale, attorney for Fry and Toth, said the video backs up the officers’ story. Both officers remain on-duty and have not been charged with any wrongdoing.