About that Chicago police shooting of an "unarmed black man"

The Windy City was lighting up with protests this weekend after Chicago police fatally shot 37-year-old Harith Augustus. The encounter was initially described in some outlets as “another police shooting of an unarmed black man” with the linked AP report indicating that the police “believed” the suspect was armed. The protests quickly broke out with additional violence as angry citizens confronted police officers.

Moving perhaps a bit slower than they could have, the cops have now released the body cam footage of one of the officers involved in the encounter. If you watch the video below you’ll see the camera freeze on the moment where Augustus backs up against a parked car while attempting to evade the officers and his shirt comes up toward his chest. Underneath, the camera picks up what the cops “believed” they saw in the first place and what you’ll see the suspect reaching for out in the street when the fatal shots are fired. (New York Post)

Cops have released video showing a deadly police-involved shooting in Chicago that sparked protests on Saturday — and it appears to show the victim reaching for a holstered gun just moments before he’s killed.

Harith Augustus, 37, can be seen running away from CPD officers and out into the street following a brief confrontation with them on the sidewalk.

Bodycam footage shows him carrying a handgun in his waistband and some extra ammunition.

“It was some semiautomatic weapon,” explained Chicago Police Chief of Patrol Fred Waller at a press conference. “He also had magazines on him.”

As you saw in the freeze-frame, Augustus had a handgun of some sort in a holster on the right side of his body and some extra magazines on his left hip.

Reports from neighbors who are familiar with Augustus indicate that he was a “good family man” and that he had a concealed carry permit. Assuming all of that is true, this is a particularly disheartening story because it feeds into the narratives of people being shot for “carrying while black.” That simply discourages further firearms education and legal gun ownership for the law-abiding.

But if you watch the entire video, that’s simply not the entire story. I’m not sure what motivated the cops to initially approach Augustus beyond the fact that they saw a “bulge” under his waistband, but his reaction was immediate. He does appear to be producing his ID for them, but instead of responding like your typical, law-abiding citizen and answering the officers’ questions, Augustus immediately becomes combative and seeks to escape the officers, crashing into a parked car an heading into the street.

That’s where things take a distinct turn. As officers give pursuit, Augustus turns back toward them. Next comes a sequence of events which unfolds in little more than the blink of an eye. I’ve taken four screen captures of the moves that Augustus makes. Look at these four images in order, keeping in mind that the police just saw a weapon on his right hip. (Click on image for full size)

Now, having looked at the sequence of events and knowing what the police knew about the weapon at his hip, consider that those four images I compiled all were recorded in barely three seconds. That’s how long the cops had to decide what to do and respond.

This was a tragic situation and a death which clearly didn’t have to take place. But placing the blame entirely on the shoulders of the Chicago PD seems like a response which won’t hold up in court once this footage is reviewed. Were the cops justified in initially approaching Augustus to question him? We don’t know that yet. But once the handgun was in play and the action started rolling, this was unfortunately pretty much the only way it was going to end.