A Des Plaines police officer who accidentally shot a teenager while pursuing a bank robber will not face charges for the incident, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recently announced. The investigation led to the conclusion that the officer was justified in using deadly force against the bank robber. Unfortunately, it was not the bank robber he shot. The investigation concluded that the officer acted reasonably.
The decision not to pursue charges against the officer was based on a legal concept known as mens rea or “guilty mind.” Figuratively, it refers to evil intent and is a requirement for many types of crimes. Two crimes that certainly require mens rea to be established for a conviction are first- and second-degree murder. The decision not to charge the officer boiled down to whether or not the decision to fire the weapon at the bank robber was justified. The investigation concluded that it was reasonable to discharge the weapon in that situation.
The officer chased the bank robber into a music school. One of the students was caught in the crossfire. According to the Department Chief, it is not clear from the video whether or not the teen was shot by the officer or the bank robber. If you have ever watched TV, you probably know that ballistics can tell which gun a bullet came from. The investigation would not be complete if the Police Chief did not know for a fact whose gun shot the teen. If the bank robber’s gun shot the teen, then the bank robber should be facing charges for aggravated battery or attempted murder. In this case, the Police Chief is basing the notion that either one of the two could have shot the teen based on the video as opposed to the entry wound and the bullet. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.
What Could Still Happen?
The teen and his family will likely sue the City of Chicago for the incident. They will claim that the officer recklessly endangered the lives of the students by discharging a weapon in their general direction. They will claim that the use of force was not justified because it put members of the public needlessly in danger. While the officer may or may not have committed a prosecutable crime, his discretion was likely compromised at the time he fired his weapon.
Many police officers may be crack-shots, but firing into an area with bystanders is probably not the kind of behavior you would want to encourage. Nonetheless, the investigators believed the officer’s conduct fell short of reckless endangerment or other negligence-based claims.
Typically, officers are not charged with negligence. If negligence was committed, the victim can file a personal injury lawsuit against the City. Since that remedy still exists, the police will not railroad one of their own simply because he made a split-second decision that caused harm to an innocent person.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
David Freidberg represents the interests of Chicago residents charged with serious crimes. Call our office today at (312) 560-7100 to discuss your situation in more detail and allow us to begin preparing your defense.