Supt.: No clear violations of CPD policy in Beal shooting so far

(CHICAGO) Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson on Monday watched cellphone video of the Southwest Side traffic standoff that sparked a fatal police-involved shooting, but he didn’t see clear violations of department policy.

“CPD did review pieces of video today, looking for training and tactics,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Chicago Sun-Times. “What was reviewed today was inconclusive to determine whether there were any training violations, and we are looking forward to [the Independent Police Review Authority’s] review.”

That’s in contrast to the fatal police-involved shooting of a man driving a stolen car in July on the South Side, in which Johnson quickly announced that he saw potential violations of department policy.

About 3 p.m. Saturday, an off-duty police officer and a uniformed police sergeant fired at Joshua Beal, 25, who was pointing his gun into a crowd during a traffic altercation involving a funeral procession in the 3100 block of West 111th in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood, authorities said.

It’s unclear whether one or both of the officers’ shots struck Beal. Police are testing Beal’s weapon — a 9mm handgun with a laser sight — to see if he fired it, Guglielmi said.

The incident began when an off-duty Chicago firefighter argued with motorists in a funeral procession who were blocking a fire lane near a Chicago firehouse, police say.

An off-duty Chicago cop in a barbershop saw the fight. He went into the street and identified himself as an officer. And a Chicago Police sergeant driving to the Morgan Park police station also stopped and got out of his vehicle. The sergeant saw Beal with a gun in his hand and the sergeant opened fire — as did the off-duty cop.

Beal’s family and demonstrators with the Black Lives Matter movement have questioned the police department’s account.

Guglielmi noted that the off-duty officer and the sergeant have been placed on desk duty for 30 days — which is routine — to let supervisors monitor them and provide them with training, if necessary.

But unlike another fatal police-involved shooting in July, the officer and sergeant have not been stripped of their police powers.

In July, three officers were stripped of their powers within 48 hours of firing their weapons at Paul O’Neal, an 18-year-old driving a stolen Jaguar. At the time, Johnson said the officers appeared to violate department policy in the fatal shooting of O’Neal, as body cameras and dashboard cameras captured officers firing at the Jaguar.

There is no such video of Beal’s shooting — only cellphone camera video for now.

On Saturday, Beal was in a car in a funeral procession for his cousin, Marcus Washington, 26, who was shot to death late last month in Indianapolis. Beal was a pallbearer at Washington’s burial at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Beal’s family said he had earned an associate’s degree at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana and had two young children with his fiancée. His family said he was not associated with gangs, although police were on alert for possible gang activity in connection with Washington’s funeral, according to law-enforcement sources.

Still, Beal did have some serious scrapes with the law, including a 2009 road-rage incident in Indianapolis in which he pulled a handgun from his waistband and hit a 20-year-old man in the head following a traffic accident, according to a police report. Beal pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge and was placed on probation, court records show.

On Tuesday, Beal’s brother, Michael Beal, 28, is scheduled to appear in Cook County criminal court for a bond hearing on a charge of aggravated battery to a police officer. On Saturday, during the Mount Greenwood traffic altercation, he allegedly put the off-duty officer in a chokehold, officials say.

The off-duty firefighter who initially confronted the motorists in the funeral procession later performed CPR on Joshua Beal after he was shot, according to Larry Langford, a spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department. The firefighter isn’t assigned to the firehouse on the block where the melee occurred, Langford said.

On Monday, Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) bemoaned the racial tension triggered by Beal’s death, but defended the actions of the officers who fired the shots.

“When you point a gun in this type of situation — a gun that legally that man should not have been carrying in this state — unfortunately the Chicago Police Department had to use deadly force,” said O’Shea, whose far Southwest Side ward is home to scores of police officers and firefighters.

“There were lives in danger. Police ordered the individual to put the weapon down. He clearly had a weapon,” he said. “He was pointing it into the crowd and was ordered by police numerous times to put it down. He did not. Unfortunately, in that type of situation, you have to make a decision. And they decided to use deadly force.”

As for demonstrations in Mount Greenwood on Sunday prompted by Beal’s shooting, O’Shea said he wants “to make sure we keep the peace and cooler heads prevail.”

Black Lives and Blue Lives matter protesters faced off, trading incendiary language.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel added, “There is no place in the city of Chicago for racially, culturally or ethnically tinged language. It is totally unacceptable. You can have a protest. . . . But do it in a way that respects our differences rather than drives a wedge between us.”