COPA, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, has called for the firing of Officer Saharat Sampin. They have found that Sampin lied in a report concerning the death of 19-year-old Roshad McIntosh. According to Sampin, McIntosh had a gun before another officer shot him.
The incident occurred in 2014 after police were called to the scene of a complaint involving armed men. Upon arriving at the scene, officers say that one of the men tried to run and pointed a gun at officers while he did so.
COPA documents indicate that Sampin said he saw a man wearing dark clothing take a silver gun from his waistband and point it at officers. Another officer fired three shots, ending McIntosh’s life. Sampin also said that he saw McIntosh with a gun pointed at the officer who ultimately shot him, Robert Slechter.
The review authority that investigates police shootings found that Slechter’s actions were “within policy” and that the shooting was justified. No criminal charges were brought and no disciplinary actions were taken against the officer.
Mother Files Wrongful Death Saying McIntosh was Unarmed
Since this incident, McIntosh’s mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Chicago for the role officers played in her son’s death. She contends that her boy was unarmed at the time of the shooting. A lawyer for the family says that police officers planted the gun at the scene of the crime.
The COPA findings seem to corroborate the family’s assertion. They say that Sampin’s testimony was untrue and could not be reasonably attributed to a “mistake in memory or perception.” It is unclear what evidence COPA used to determine whether or not the gun was a plant or within McIntosh’s possession at the time of the incident.
The matter will now head to the Chicago Police Board for further review.
What is COPA and How Does it Operate?
COPA is supposed to be another check and balance in the hierarchy. Police are not only held to internal department standards and the law itself, but there is a civilian review committee to determine whether or not actions deserve more investigation. However, many believe that COPA simply rubber-stamps the party line of police officers.
COPA was created in 2016 and replaced IPRA, which gained notoriety after the shooting death of Laquan McDonald.
COPA came under fire after the shooting death of Ricky Hayes, a developmentally and intellectually disabled ward of the state. His caregiver woke up one night to find that he was not in his room. He had a history of leaving the house to wander the neighborhood. Hayes could be seen on multiple surveillance videos singing to himself.
At about 5 a.m., off-duty officer Khalil Muhammed began chasing him. Hayes ran away. Hayes stopped at a house and stood on the front lawn. Muhammed confronted Hayes who approached his vehicle, attempting to get a cellphone from his back pocket. Muhammed fired from his truck, wounding Hayes. Now injured, Hayes attempted to flee. Muhammed caught up with him and ordered him face down on the ground.
In a subsequent report ordered by Sgt. Isaac Lambert, Lambert said he was ordered to call the incident “attempted battery on an officer.” Lambert was then demoted from detective. COPA’s report indicated that Muhammed was wrong to approach Hayes in plain clothes and assumed Muhammed would be terminated. However, the administrator of COPA recommended a 60-day suspension, shocking all involved.
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