Severely beaten Chicago cop refused to shoot attacker, fearing ‘national news’

© Jim Young
A female police officer in Chicago, Illinois ended up in the hospital after a man reportedly high on drugs smashed her face into the pavement. She chose not to shoot her attacker, however, because she didn’t want that to become the story.

The 43-year-old officer, who has 17 years of experience on the force, responded to a call about a car crash on Chicago’s West Side on Wednesday morning. She encountered a 28-year-old man walking away from the scene of the crash. He attacked, slamming the female officer's head against the pavement until she lost consciousness, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“She thought she was going to die, and she knew that she should shoot this guy, but she chose not to,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Thursday at an event honoring police and firefighters. “She didn’t want her family or the department to go through the scrutiny the next day on national news.”

The suspect injured two other officers before he was subdued through the use of a Taser and pepper spray, the Tribune said. Johnson cited the story as an example how dangerous police work is.

“Because of the scrutiny going on nationwide, there [are] officers second-guessing themselves. That’s what we don’t want,” he said. “We have to change the narrative of the law enforcement across this country.”

Officers “don't want to become the next YouTube video,” Dean Angelo, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, told the Chicago Tribune. “If you participate in a deadly force situation you can save your life, but in 2016, you can lose your job,” he said.

It is unknown whether the incident had racial overtones, as neither the officer nor the suspect were identified. The suspect has been arrested at least seven times and convicted once on firearms charges, reported the Tribune, citing police sources.

Police shootings of African-American male suspects have become a national controversy, starting with the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Protests by the Black Lives Matter movement have led the police to second-guess the use of deadly force in what many – including FBI Director James Comey – dubbed the “Ferguson effect.”

A detective in Birmingham, Alabama was attacked by a suspect in August 2015 and beaten with his own service weapon, because he decided not to shoot and risk appearing racist.

Chicago is under investigation by the Department of Justice over the 2014 shooting of African-American teenager Laquan McDonald. The knife-wielding McDonald was shot 16 times by a white officer who had just arrived as backup. Officer Jason Van Dyke was fired from the force and indicted on murder charges once the video of the shooting was released in November 2015.

Partly in response to the Black Lives Matter protests and the DOJ probe, Chicago has just unveiled new use-of-force guidelines, requiring officers to use deadly force only when in immediate threat of death or great bodily harm. Officers would also be required to offer medical assistance to any suspects they injure, WLS reported.