Statement Regarding the Police Involved Shooting Death of Paul O'Neal

January 19, 2018

As the agency responsible for making criminal charging decisions under Illinois law, the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney has reviewed the investigation surrounding the shooting death of Paul O’Neal on July 28, 2016 by Chicago Police Officers. After a thorough review of the evidence, including dashboard and body camera recordings, witness interviews, and physical evidence, the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney determined that criminal charges against the officers are not appropriate in this case.

The evidence established that three officers fired shots at O’Neal during the car chase and subsequent foot chase. The review of the evidence indicated that two of the officers were placed in reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm when O’Neal drove a car towards them, and the third shooting officer reasonably believed that O’Neal had fired at the police, although in fact those shots were fired by fellow officers. Because the evidence at any trial would have established that each of the shooting officers had a reasonable belief in the justified use of deadly force, there was no basis to support a criminal charge against those officers.

Pursuant to its policies and legislation enacted last year at the urging of State’s Attorney Foxx, within days of making its declination determination, the State’s Attorney’s Office referred the review of the case to the Office of the State Appellate Prosecutor for an additional review. The Office of the State Appellate Prosecutor has now completed its review, and has concurred that no criminal charges are appropriate.

The purpose of the review by the State’s Attorney’s Office and the State Appellate Prosecutor was to determine whether the officers’ conduct violated criminal law. Nothing in this review is intended to address issues related to whether the officers followed proper procedures or whether any officers should be subject to discipline. Policy and discipline recommendations in officer involved shooting cases are solely within the purview of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.

A report detailing the State’s Attorney’s decision can be accessed here and the State Appellate Prosecutor’s declination letter can be accessed here.