Chicago cop sued again after 2nd fatal shooting of unarmed black man

A demonstrator holds a sign as protesters try to disrupt Black Friday shopping in Chicago, Illinois, November 25, 2016. © Joshua Lott
Claiming "unjustified and excessive use of force," the family of Kajuan Raye has sued the police sergeant who fatally shot the unarmed teen last week in Chicago, Illinois. John Poulos, the accused sergeant, also fatally shot an unarmed black man in 2013.

The Chicago Police Department has not named the officer responsible for Raye's death on November 23, but a lawsuit filed Tuesday by Raye's mother identified Poulos, 44, as the shooter, according to the Chicago Tribune. In addition, Ja'Mal Green, a Chicago activist and spokesman for Raye's family, also identified the sergeant as Poulos on his Facebook page and during a press conference on Tuesday.

Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson called Green's actions "divisive" and "inappropriate," the Tribune reported. Green said Tuesday that offering information about the officer responsible for two deaths of unarmed men is all the reason needed.

"They don't want to put out the name and background of this sergeant, but yet as soon as they killed Kajuan Raye, they automatically called him a thug," Green said at the news conference when asked by reporters about posting Poulos' photo online. 

"They automatically said he had a gun. They automatically put out their narrative. Why can't we put out ours? John Poulos is this police officer. Put his picture out. Tell the people that he shot two unarmed black males. Put his background out. You want to keep making us look like criminals, he's a criminal. He's a criminal. Kajuan Raye didn't shoot anybody. (Poulos) shot two unarmed black men. That's the criminal that needs to be prosecuted. Put out his background."

Late on November 23, Raye, 19, was in the West Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, reportedly waiting for a bus with a friend. A Chicago PD sergeant responded to a call in the area about a battery in progress when the sergeant found a man, later identified as Raye, that "matched the description of the offender," Johnson said last week. The sergeant approached the man, but the man ran away, police said. The sergeant chased the man, who at some point "turned and pointed" a weapon at the sergeant, Chicago PD has claimed.

The sergeant, a white man, fired his own weapon in response, hitting Raye in the back. Raye was soon pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The sergeant was not wearing a body camera. A comprehensive search for a gun at the scene, the one Raye reportedly pointed at the sergeant, came up empty, according to police, and no weapon has been found since.

The sergeant's claim that Raye had a gun is "simply ridiculous," said Michael Oppenheimer, attorney for Raye's family.

"It is another attempt to cover up another fatal shooting by the Chicago Police Department," Oppenheimer said Tuesday.

Over the weekend, Johnson stripped the sergeant of his policing rank, saying he has "concerns about this incident," the Tribune reported.

Poulos was responsible for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man during a foot pursuit in 2013. Similar to the Raye killing, Poulos said the man, Rickey Rozelle, had pointed a weapon at him during a chase, leading the sergeant to fire, hitting Rozelle in the chest. No weapon was recovered, however, only a chrome watch, the Tribune reported. Poulos was not punished for Rozelle's death. Rozelle's family has a pending lawsuit against the Chicago PD sergeant.

Between 2010 and 2015, Chicago PD officers fired 2,623 bullets at citizens, killing 92 people and injuring 170 others, according to an analysis by the Tribune. So far this year, the department's officers have shot 24 people after shooting 28 in 2015.

The Chicago PD is under investigation by the US Department of Justice over its use of force and accountability policies stemming from the October 2014 police killing of Laquan McDonald. In November 2015, the department finally released a dashcam recording of the incident, showing McDonald, who was holding a knife, was shot by Officer Jason Van Dyke. The officer, who shot the teen 16 times just seconds after arriving on the scene, was charged with first-degree murder. The video of the shooting spurred mass protests in Chicago and beyond.