Police Murder of Cedrick Chatman Approved by Chicago Powers

This Cannot Go Down! This Cannot Go On!

Updated January 18, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


In the midst of outrage over one horrendous police murder after another and exposures of the official cover-up from every institution, the video of the police shooting of 17-year-old Cedrick Chatman in January 2013 was forced into the light of day after a battle by the city to suppress it. The family wanted the public to see the video to counter the official lies and verdict that Cedrick’s shooting was justified. “You see him running away from the officers as fast as he possibly could--he never even begins to turn,” Brian Coffman, the family lawyer, said. “Fry [the cop] never says anything. He just gets out of the car, watches him run with his gun trained on him, and fires.” Not only did they gun down Cedrick in the middle of the day on a busy South Side street corner, but there is the sickening sight of the other cop standing with his boot on the mortally wounded, handcuffed teenager, as though Cedrick is some kind of animal in a trophy kill. This horror gives graphic illustration to the reality expressed by many that it is “open season” on Black people. THESE HORRORS MUST STOP NOW!

What has come out around this case is the fact that all the “institutional processes” involved knew about and officially approved the cop’s right to shoot this unarmed Black youth while he was fleeing for his life. In this case both the state’s attorney and the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) cleared Fry of any wrongdoing. Neither cop faced any discipline and they have been on the street to this day.

The official police story was that Cedrick and others had carjacked a car. The police said they saw a car that matched the description, stopped it and that they saw Chatman reach down for something in the car and then get out of his car and run with a black object in his hand that they thought might be a weapon and that he turned slightly toward the pursuing cops, so “fearing for his life” the cop, Fry, opened fire. But the investigation of the scene showed that the object was a black iPhone box, there was no gun. And video footage from three nearby buildings shows Cedrick was sprinting away from the cops. Coffman, who initially was hesitant to take the case, said, “The more I saw, the more I realized, ‘Oh my god, this is a giant scam.’ It was unbelievable. They were fighting tooth and nail to cover this up from the very beginning.”

The only thing that was not pig business-as-usual in this case is that the lead investigator for IPRA, Lorenzo Davis, found that the shooting was unjustified and recommended firing Fry, the cop who murdered Cedrick. Fry was not fired, but Lorenzo Davis was fired for refusing to change his decision. Davis examined the video and concluded that “Cedrick was just running as the shots were fired. You’re taught that deadly force is a last resort and that you should do everything in your power to apprehend the person before you use deadly force. I did not see where deadly force was called for at that time.” The head of IPRA (who is appointed by the mayor), a supposed independent and impartial investigative body, was determined to protect the police and intervened directly and ordered Davis to change his decision to “justified” on this case (and five others including the police murders of Laquan McDonald and Flint Farmer). Davis, who had been a Chicago cop for 23 years, refused and he was fired for “anti-police bias!” After his firing, the higher-ups at IPRA changed the decision on the shooting to “justified.” No charges were brought by the state’s attorney either. Case closed. Officially-approved murder—signed, sealed, delivered.

THERE IS MORE. The murdering cop has a long record of brutality and at least one other death. The wrongful death civil suit filed by Chatman’s family is the fifth civil rights lawsuit since 2006 in which Fry is named as a defendant. The other four allege violations of excessive force, false arrest and illegal searches. They all ended in settlements. At least one involved the shooting of another Black teen. Fry has been the target of 30 complaints throughout his career and ALL were marked as “unsubstantiated." In fact, Fry has faced no discipline whatsoever in his whole career.

AND THERE IS MORE. Instead of charging the killer cop, two alleged accomplices in the alleged carjacking who were 10 blocks away at the time the cops killed Cedrick, were charged with Cedrick’s murder! The prosecutors wrote that the men “set in motion a chain of events that caused the death of Cedrick Chatman.” This is a twisted logic—cops kill a man and get away with murder and two youth who weren’t even on the scene are charged for his murder. The murder charges were used as a club to force them to plead guilty to lesser charges. They are now in prison for 10 years while the cops are free and on duty on the street.

Yes there's a conspiracy, to get the cops off

"Yes there's a conspiracy... to get the cops off" is a clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian given in 2003. Learn more about Bob Avakian here

What does this tell us? That the whole process and routine machinery of the police, the law, the supposed investigative and legal “checks and balances,” and the executive (mayor and city council) is set up to give the stamp of approval to police murder and terror and to hide what’s really going on so they can keep doing it. Who was punished? Not the cops, not the head of the IPRA. They fired the investigator who wouldn’t back off his finding. This is more than a code of silence, it is a system that is in place to allow the police to murder with impunity, and at the same time routinize it, cover it up, and make it look like the process is fair and equal by suppressing evidence and demonizing a whole section of people that they viciously repress.

Brian Coffman said, “the symmetry between our case and the McDonald case is pretty obvious...This is a bomb that’s about to drop in the city of Chicago, where everyone suddenly realizes the system is broken.”

What this actually reveals is how the whole system really works, and is meant to work, yes, in Chicago, but all over the country, as Bob Avakian sharply reveals in the video “Yes there is a conspiracy ... to get the cops off.”

Everyone who is sick of what they have seen on these videos, everyone who can’t sit silent while police murder more people like Bettie Jones and Quintonio Legrier, everyone who wanted 12-year-old Tamir Rice to have a chance to grow up, everyone who has been protesting and refusing to be quiet—you need to be in the streets and schools raising hell!

And you need to be at the Midwest Regional Conference of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) to STOP POLICE TERROR on Saturday, January 23, 12-6 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 125 East 26th Street, Chicago. (Go here for SMIN regional conferences coming up in other areas of the country.)



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