Paul O’Neal, 18, had recently graduated high school. His sister, Briana Adams, told reporters at a press conference, “I want everyone to know that Paul had goals.”
She said he wanted to go to a trade school, and maybe work for ComEd one day. His cousin said he was interested in professional boxing, or becoming a chef like his mother.
Instead, O’Neal turned to crime, joining in with a ring of car thieves, and on Thursday, July 28, it cost him his life.
Four vehicles were stolen in Bolingbrook area between Wednesday and Thursday, including a 2002 Jaguar XKR convertible according to the Chicago Tribune.
Early Thursday, at 3:30 a.m. a surveillance camera at a gas station captured O’Neal and three other suspects both inside and outside the station. Three of the cars were visible that had been stolen during the night: a 2009 Buick Enclave, a 2003 Honda Odyssey and a 2010 Nissan Rogue. The owner of the Jaguar discovered the car missing at 5:55 a.m.
In addition to the four cars stolen, several other vehicles in town were broken into the same night, and a credit card stolen from one of those vehicles was used at the gas station.
Police were on high alert.
At 7:30 p.m. the same day, police spotted the Jaguar in the South Shore neighborhood, being driven by O’Neal, and tried to stop him, but O’Neal led police on a chase instead.
Multiple police vehicles joined in the chase. During the chase, O’Neal reported sideswiped one police vehicle, as officers shot at the vehicle trying to get him to stop, then he rounded the corner and crashed into another police vehicle head-on.
Instead of stopping there, O’Neal jumped out of the wrecked car and took off running, again refusing to obey orders from police to stop. He ran between two homes, and jumped a yard fence, as officers pursued on foot, yelling for him to stop.
Police have admitted they were unaware whether O’Neal was armed or not. Later they discovered he was unarmed.
During the chase he was shot by police in the back.
When the officers reach O’Neal they handcuffed him, as he lay bleeding on the ground. He died shortly after the shooting at the hospital.
Police officers first thought O’Neal was firing at them, then after the ordeal, they learned the shooting was from coming from other officers who were at various angles around O’Neal trying to stop him.
Three officers fired weapons, and the Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has stripped all three officers of their police powers. “If it’s an honest mistake, we’ll get them training, coaching, mentoring and get them back out there. But if it was intentional misconduct, then they have to be held accountable for it,” he told reporters.
O’Neal’s family is suing the police department. “There is no question in my mind that criminal acts were committed,” said attorney Michael Oppenheimer, a former prosecutor who is representing O’Neal’s family. “What I saw was pretty cold-blooded.”
Video footage from body cams and police car cameras has been made public. The videos include footage from different officers.
The following screenshot was the very moment before O’Neal crash the Jaguar head-on into the police cruiser.
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