Footage Released Shows 37-Year-Old Harith Augustus Was Armed When He Was Killed By Police
The Chicago police just released body cam footage in record time after the shooting of 37-year-old barber Harith Augustus resulted in massive protesting on the South Side, and in some cases, violence against officers.
According to The Chicago Tribune reports:
The footage, taken from an officer’s body-worn camera, appears to show Harith Augustus, 37, a barber, break away from officers and move his hand toward his waistband. He was shot dead in the street by police.
The video, however, runs less than a minute and does not include sound, so it is unclear what exchanges occurred between Augustus and officers in the seconds before the shooting.
At a news conference Sunday afternoon at police headquarters, Superintendent Eddie Johnson said he released the video so swiftly in hopes of avoiding a repeat of violent clashes Saturday night between baton-wielding officers and protesters, some of whom lobbed bottles at officers, in the South Shore neighborhood where the shooting took place.
“In this particular instance after seeing what transpired last night, I have an obligation to this city, to the community and to these police officers to make sure this city is safe and calm,” Johnson told reporters. “And last night after what I saw on video, you know, bottles being thrown, urine being thrown at the police officers, we can’t have another night like that.”
Johnson said the investigation into the shooting remained open, with “tons” of other video still being reviewed.
Watch the clip below:
The footage is from one officer on the scene shows another three offers approaching Augustus. One points in the direction of Augustus’ holstered gun while he appears to be talking to him. One of the two officers approaching Augustus from behind grabs his wrist and he can be seen pulling away, before running off.
While the video appears to answer one question — that Augustus was armed — the decisions of the officers in how they approached him will no doubt be part of a COPA review that will likely take months. The Police Department also created a force review team that would look for potential policy or training issues to correct as a result of the shooting.
In a brief statement Sunday, COPA said a weapon had been recovered at the shooting scene.
Some 200 people gathered Sunday evening to protest the shooting despite the footage released. The release of this particular footage (within 24 hours of the incident) is a record for Chicago Police, who rarely share images from fatal police shootings and only really began to do so after being forced by court order to release the footage of the Laquan McDonald shooting in 2015 — a full year AFTER the incident.
In February 2016, the city’s Police Accountability Task Force announced that audio and video recordings would be released within 60 days of a shooting or in-custody death. Law enforcement agencies can seek a 30-day delay in the release.
Video, audio and police reports are now regularly released on the website of the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates all shootings by Chicago police officers.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled the shooting a homicide and said Sunday that autopsy results showed Augustus died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Johnson said he spoke with Augustus’ family before releasing the body camera video.
“To the family of Mr. Augustus, I offer you my sincerest condolences for your loss, especially as a parent, as a father,” he told reporters. “To the officers involved, I know this is hard on you all, and you have my word that we’ll ensure as a department that you all get the necessary support and mentoring you need through this difficult situation.”
The officer who fired will be placed on 30-day desk duty while COPA investigates.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Augustus’ loved ones and we continue to pray for peace and justice in Chicago.
Do you think the Chicago Police Department would have been this quick to release the footage if Augustus had been unarmed?