Chicago Cop Who Murdered 15-Year-Old Dakota Bright Cleared of Wrongdoing —
System that Cleared Him, Beyond Redemption

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In this case, the facts speak for themselves, except for one thing that has to be spelled out...

Mid-afternoon on November 8, 2012: Dakota Bright was on his way to his grandmother’s house when he was chased and shot dead by Chicago police officer Brandon Ternand. Almost six years later, on October 11, the Chicago Police Board (CPB) voted to clear Ternand of any wrongdoing in the murder of the unarmed teenager.

Ternand will be returned to active duty terrorizing Black youth, and paid around $80,000 for the nearly one year he was suspended from the force.

Here are the facts about Dakota Bright:

  • Dakota was 15 years old when murdered, a high school freshman.
  • Dakota was shot square in the back of his head.
  • Dakota was shot from 50 feet away, when he was clearly no threat to the cops.
  • Dakota was unarmed, and there is no evidence linking him to any crime.
  • Dakota had been brutalized by the cops before—kicked in the mouth with a tooth knocked out—for having “a smart mouth” according to the officer. In case you were wondering “why did he run if he did nothing wrong?”!

Here are the facts about Brandon Ternand:

  • Ternand had 23 civilian complaints against him between 2010 and 2014 for things like excessive force and illegal searches and is one of the top twelve cops on the notoriously brutal and corrupt Chicago Police Department for number of complaints.
  • Ternand claimed that he saw Dakota holding a gun at the start of the chase—but neither he nor any of the other officers on the scene mentioned a gun when they called in the report. A gun was allegedly “found”—three backyards away from where Dakota was killed.
  • Ternand claimed that he shot Dakota because he turned his head to the right and reached towards his left pocket as if going for a gun. But again, Dakota was shot in the back of the head, which would not happen if he was turning. And, again, Dakota was unarmed, so why would he be reaching for a gun or doing anything that would slow down his escape from the cops?

Here are the facts about how Ternand’s case worked its way through the system:

  • In 2017, the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) found that Ternand had used excessive force and recommended that he be fired. IPRA (since disbanded) was mostly a rubber stamp for the CPD—in an eight-year period, IPRA had investigated hundreds of shootings and found only two to be “unjustified.” That gives an idea of how outrageous and blatant a police murder had to be for IPRA to rule against it.
  • After IPRA made this recommendation, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson opposed it, saying that Ternand’s actions were justified. Johnson is Black. He was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, supposedly to reform the police and repair their relationship with the Black community. This was in the midst of protests over the murder of Laquan McDonald, and the cover-up of that murder by means of cops on the scene blatantly lying and all the higher ups—up to and including the mayor—trying to suppress the video that proved they were lying.
  • This put the case before the Chicago Police Board, which is dominated by former law enforcement, judges, and representatives of big corporations and investment banks, to make the final decision.
  • The CPB dismissed the testimony of experts—including one who has only criticized police in 1.5 percent of the 200 cases he has reviewed, but who punched holes in Ternand’s claims about the shooting of Dakota Bright—as “unqualified.”
  • The CPB praised Ternand as “a highly decorated and respected tactical officer with years of experience,” and said that his obvious testi-lying was “credible and persuasive.” How did they know he was “credible,” even though his testimony conflicted with the facts? Because Ternand’s wife, other officers on the scene, and the deputy chief of police said so!
  • The CPB decision came less than a week after the conviction of former Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke for murdering Laquan McDonald. That conviction only happened because of massive protest of that murder and because there was a videotape that exposed the cops’ standard lies. And it was also only a few days after Trump called for bringing back stop-and-frisk in Chicago and Attorney General Jeff Sessions moved to squash any further efforts to “reform” the CPD. The message from the ruling class in the city and in the whole country to the pigs could not be clearer: “Don’t get the wrong idea from the surprise conviction of Van Dyke—we still want you out there murdering and terrorizing Black youth, and we have your backs!

So those are the facts of how a Black youth with his whole life ahead of him had it ruthlessly snatched away for nothing, and how all the mechanisms, institutions, and people supposedly set up to protect people from this kind of brutality actually worked to protect the murderer.

What remains to be said?

Only this—what is boldly stated by the Revolution Club banner carried into so many protests against the crimes this system commits:



Dakota Bright, murdered by Chicago police, November 8. 2012. Photo courtesy of the family of Dakota Bright.

“Yes there's a conspiracy... to get the cops off”

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 in the United States. See the whole film at


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