On Thursday, the Chicago Police Board fired two officers who had shot at a stolen car in 2016. The car was speeding away from them during a traffic stop shortly before the fatal shooting of Paul O’Neal, an unarmed teen who was behind the wheel.
The board voted 8-0 in favor of terminating officers Michael Coughlin Jr. and his partner Jose Torres, with one member recusing himself during a meeting held via teleconference because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions on public meetings.
The now-defunct Independent Police Review Authority recommended the officers be fired, saying the pair endangered the lives of civilians and fellow officers when they shot at the moving car on a residential street. IPRA closed its investigation in September 2017.
On July 28, 2016, officers tried to pull over a Jaguar convertible that had been reported stolen. Coughlin and Torres opened fire at the car after O’Neal slammed the Jaguar into two police SUVs and sped off down the street, according to previously released bodycam footage.
The car crashed near 73rd Street and Merrill Avenue, and O’Neal led officers on a foot chase into a backyard, where a third officer, Jose Diaz, opened fire. The 18-year-old died of a gunshot wound to the back, according to an autopsy.
IPRA ruled that Diaz was justified in the shooting because he thought O’Neal had a gun and fired at police. They recommended Diaz serve a six-month suspension because he didn’t activate his bodycam and he allegedly kicked O’Neal after the shooting.