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Within 24 hours, Chicago police released a brief video from the moment officers confronted a 37-year-old black man and fatally shot him on the street. Its quick release was an effort to ease tensions following violent protests Saturday night.
But is it enough?
Making video of a police shooting public so soon, while a departure, is a step in the right direction for Chicago police — and it should be standard police policy whenever there's lethal use-of-force, some activists and observers say.
"It was a good thing, and it answered some questions" in the shooting death of Harith Augustus, said University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman, a critic of the city's police department. "At the same time, it shows what's wrong with the current policy."
The clip that was made public Sunday afternoon of Augustus' shooting showed about 40 seconds from an officers' bodycam.
Futterman said Chicago police in this case and all others should release all video within 48 hours of the incident. Exceptions can be made, he said, if officials provide the public "clear, articulated circumstances" in which the release would impede an ongoing investigation.
Currently, the police have 60 days to release video and audio in a use-of-force case, although it can seek a 30-day delay and further extensions from a court.
Before that policy went into effect in spring 2016, Chicago police sought to delay releasing dashcam video in the October 2014 fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald. A journalist sued the department for the video before a judge ordered it to be released more than a year later. The officer in the case was charged with first-degree murder on the same day the video was released. He is still awaiting trial.
McDonald's death touched off a wave of protests in Chicago and calls for reforms of policing within the minority community.
While Futterman said he doesn't expect the release of bodycam video in the Augustus shooting to set a new standard for the department, doing so can go a long way.
"It's a policy of honesty and transparency, and it's the kind of thing that builds trust with the community," he added. "Putting out all the relevant video shows police are being open — whether they look good, bad or indifferent in a particular incident."
An argument could be made that the immediate release of video might allow officers to simply tailor their statements in the investigation to what is seen on camera. But Futterman said that videos released within 48 hours still give investigators time to properly interview officers and witnesses involved.
In the case of Augustus, the bodycam footage confirmed that he had a gun in his waistband after there were rumors that he may have been unarmed.
But the video has no audio and is only from the perspective of one of the four officers at the scene. It's unclear why they stopped Augustus, a barber remembered in his South Shore neighborhood as a quiet man who liked to bring his 5-year-old daughter to work.
One of the officers is seen in the bodycam footage grabbing at Augustus, causing him to pull away before he starts to run off. An officer then draws their weapon and Augustus spins around and appears to reach for his waist before he falls to the ground.
The video does not show Augustus firing his weapon, and medical examiners say he died of multiple gunshot wounds. A police spokesman also said Augustus wasn't a known gang member and had no recent arrest record.
Police did not immediately say if more footage from the shooting would be made public and if it would include audio.
Word of the shooting spread on social media, leading demonstrators to face off with police on Saturday night. Some protesters threw rocks and bottles filled with urine. Police were videotaped pulling people to the ground and striking them with batons.
During a news conference Sunday, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the community "needs some answers and they need them now," while also imploring the public, "We can't have another night like last night."
Another demonstration was being planned for Monday afternoon.
Local activist William Calloway, who advocated for the release of the police dashcam video in McDonald's death, said Monday that he asked Chicago police to also put out the rest of the bodycam footage in the Augustus shooting.
"So far, it's a one-sided perspective," he said. "Police are able to craft a narrative that, 'Oh, he had a gun.' But him having a gun wasn't even illegal."
Augustus had a valid firearm owners' ID card, Johnson said, although no documentation that he could carry a concealed weapon in public. (In 2013, Illinois lawmakers allowed for concealed carry with a permit.)
"What we saw on those tapes yesterday, it showed how poor training Chicago police have," Calloway said. "If you're being shot at, your natural reaction is to protect yourself. This is why there's still trauma about white law enforcement in the black community."
Questions have also been raised about why Augustus was stopped in the first place, and whether officers had a reasonable suspicion to believe he was more than just armed, but also dangerous.
"This could be an utterly unjustifiable shooting or it could also be a justified shooting, we don't know yet," Futterman said. "The bodycam footage released tells a part of the story, but still not the whole story."