Our Response to the Shooting of Harith Augustus
On Saturday, July 14, an angry crowd in South Shore confronted police after witnessing the officer-involved shooting of 37-year-old Harith Augustus less than a mile from where he lived. Body camera footage released the next day seems to show a group of officers surrounding Augustus and attempting to grab a concealed handgun. Officers appear to shoot Augustus to death as he is running away from the scene.
As the use of force is being investigated by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights released the following statement:
“We join with community members grieving the loss of another life at the hands of Chicago police. Although it does not tell us the full picture, the video demonstrates the same tired trope common in so many police-involved shootings: Officers seem to escalate a confrontation to the point of a fatal shooting - in this case, ending the life of a father to a 5-year-old daughter.
Rather than responding swiftly to investigate the killing, law enforcement became defensive immediately. Police took a full hour to inform COPA about the shooting, and independent investigators agreed to give involved officers a full 24 hours before questioning them. When the video was released a day later, audio was not included.
Communities of color are rightfully outraged. Despite the countless recorded accounts of police abuse, misconduct, and use of force disproportionately targeting them, little has been done to change the status quo. The clashes that followed Saturday’s killing - with police throwing protesters and reporters to the ground - reflect the total lack of trust that now exists between impacted residents and police. The situation on the South and West sides has become a powder keg.
To move forward, Chicago must pursue a comprehensive consent decree and reform its police union contracts. If accountability continues to take a back seat, police will continue to lack moral authority among the communities they are charged with protecting.”