In July of last year, we published the story of an officer involved shooting in Chicago. Harith Augustus was shot and killed while trying to flee. It was not the act of fleeing that resulted in his death. It was the fact that he was known to be armed and the officers involved believed he was attempting to draw his weapon.
Now, more than a year later, a collaborative group is trying to create a narrative that paints the Chicago Police Department as liars and its officers as racists and murderers.
Just how might they be able to prove this you ask. They can’t.
They are simply making statements and portraying them as true. They provide no credible evidence to support their thesis. And they are using architectural design software to build their case.
In a piece run by The Interceptor earlier this week, two groups are highlighted for the anti-police narrative being reported.
The article states that Forensic Architecture and Invisible Institute have collaborated on a project that excavates this carefully crafted formulation in search of the truth of what happened on 71st Street that day. By means of new forensic techniques and on-the-ground reporting, our counter-investigation contests the official police narrative and examines the process by which that narrative was constructed.
Their only evidence? A dash cam video that shows only two to three seconds of video that was captured with Augustus and CPD Officer Halley.
In this video, was see Augustus run past the patrol car and into the street and the officer following him with gun drawn. They use that small clip to refute police claims. They said he was fleeing and had no weapon. Thus, they conclude, the police are lying, and Augustus was murdered in cold blood.
As reported in Law Enforcement Today, footage from body cameras and other surveillance video showed that Augustus was not only armed with a handgun but reached for it as he resisted officers who confronted him, officials said Sunday.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that the 37-year old, had a holstered semiautomatic handgun (and what appeared to be extra magazines) tucked into his waistband when officers confronted him on the city’s South Side, reported Fox News.
Tense situation after Chicago Police shoot and kill a man in South Shore. Police say there was a confrontation and he was armed https://t.co/ZqJExF5S9n @dsplacko on the scene pic.twitter.com/LQtMsfdoB7
— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) July 15, 2018
The weapon can be clearly seen in the body cam footage. According to patrol chief Fred Waller, Augustus broke free and ran from the officers, who believed “he appeared to be reaching for a weapon” and shot him.
The video actually shows his hand on the weapon as if he were drawing it. The important piece of this footage is that the suspect did not have his back turned to police as if running away but in fact, had spun and was facing the officers as his hand went to his waistband.
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Now, keep in mind, this small amount of footage is what they are using to refute larger amounts of footage from multiple angles that all say the same thing.
They pinned their hope of contesting police and witness accounts on a 3-second clip. And that comes after they criticize Chicago PD for editing the body camera footage to show only what they wanted it to show.
— Dane Placko FOX 32 (@dsplacko) July 15, 2018
Police sent the handgun and two magazines of bullets for forensic testing, said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, who added that Augustus wasn’t a known gang member and had no recent arrest history.
Nevertheless, Augustus’ death sparked angry protests. As a result, four protesters were arrested after scuffles broke out; some officers suffered minor injuries from thrown rocks and bottles, some filled with urine. Officers were required to use force to include pulling people to the ground and using batons. Moreover, two squad cars were also damaged during the melee.
Johnson told reporters he ordered the footage released to address any misinformation about the shooting and maintain calm in a bid to avoid a repeat of Saturday’s unrest.
“If we expect neighborhoods to cooperate with police, we need to do our part to remain transparent,” Johnson said.
The article, entitled HOW CHICAGO POLICE CREATED A FALSE NARRATIVE AFTER OFFICERS KILLED HARITH AUGUSTUS, concludes that the dashboard camera video cannot prove anything.
In an ironic twist, it also claims in big, bold letters that“The Video Speaks for Itself.”
So, does the video speak for itself, or can it not prove anything definitively?
The piece also took a shot at the “this was all the police’s fault to begin with” argument. Stating, “Without any verbal warning and without probable cause to initiate an arrest, Officer Megan Fleming grabbed his arm from behind. Startled, he sought to break free and took several stumbling steps into the street.”
Yet the body cam footage shows differently. He did stumble, not because he was startled, but because he bounced off a car running into the street. And startled or not, he attempted to run from the police, who were actively questioning him at that time.
Add all of that up. You have a man who is carrying a concealed weapon (it was never reported whether he was licensed to carry the weapon), running from the police and reaching for that weapon during his attempt to evade.
Ignoring these facts, a group of architectural ‘experts’ partnered with some community activists (who claim they exist to hold the government accountable) for the sole purpose of disproving the police account in this particular officer involved shooting.
Here are some simple facts since the beginning of 2010 through August of 2018: 25,934 people were shot in Chicago. 78.9% of the shooting victims are black, 15.6% are Hispanic. Of those shootings, 337 were officer-involved (about 1.3% of all shootings).
Perhaps they should spend some time trying out how to solve the violent crimes plaguing that same city.