Cedrick Chatman Police Shooting Video

Image: NBC Chicago

City attorneys on Thursday released grainy 2013 surveillance video showing the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old black carjacking suspect by a white police officer.

A federal judge granted the release hours earlier after the city withdrew its objection to it being made public under intense pressure from activists demanding more transparency and reforms to a police department under scrutiny over cases of alleged misconduct.

The officer shot Cedrick Chatman during a foot chase, telling investigators that he fired after seeing Chatman turn toward officers with a dark object in his hand that he thought was a gun. Investigators later determined it was an iPhone box.

Chatman’s mother is suing the city and the two police officers who pursued the teen. Her attorney, Brian Coffman, says the teen never turned toward the officers and posed no threat.

Questions about the Chatman video follow the Nov. 24 release of another video that made headlines. That video shows white officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014. The city fought its release for more than a year, making it public only after a state court ordered it to do so. The video and the delay in releasing it led to protests, calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign and a federal civil-rights investigation of the Chicago Police Department.

Emanuel’s administration spent months arguing that releasing the video could make the public angry and jeopardize the family’s chance of getting a fair trial in its lawsuit, the Chicago Tribune reported. But the city dropped its opposition after a court filing on Wednesday, however.  It cited Emanuel’s Task Force on Police Accountability. That group is expected to issue recommendations in March on the city’s policy of keeping police shooting videos out of the public eye.

The videos in the Chatman case come from several surveillance cameras that captured at least parts of the Jan. 7, 2013, incident in a South Shore neighborhood during daylight hours.

His family had asked that the video be made public as it sued the city over the shooting, arguing it would counter the city’s narrative that Chatman posed a danger to police.

Steve Patton, Emanuel’s top legal adviser said in a statement that “we are working to be as transparent as possible.”

At Thursday’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman sharply criticized the city attorneys for suddenly reversing course on the video’s release after spending weeks trying to prevent it.

“I went to a lot of trouble to decide this issue, and then I get this motion last night (Wednesday) saying that this is the Age of Enlightenment with the city and we’re going to be transparent,” Gettleman said. “I think it’s irresponsible.”