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Witness, cop give different accounts of Chicago teen’s death

CHICAGO (AP) — A woman has testified that a Chicago teenager didn’t appear to be holding a gun when a police officer shot him in the back in 2013, contrary to the officer’s account.

Laticia Whitehead’s videotaped deposition was played for jurors on Friday in the wrongful death lawsuit brought by Patricia Green, whose son Christian Green was 17 when he died, the Chicago Tribune reported (http://trib.in/2ocu9PP). The judge allowed Whitehead’s recorded deposition to be played for the jury because Whitehead was otherwise unavailable to testify, records show.

Whitehead said she saw the black teenager sprinting through a vacant lot toward her South Side apartment on the Fourth of July as a police SUV pulled up and an officer leaned out the window, shooting his gun and striking the teen in the back.

“They didn’t have to do that to him,” she said through tears. “He was just running.”

She said that after Christian Green jerked and fell to the ground, the officer got out of the vehicle, put his foot on the teen’s motionless body and started yelling at him for running.

Earlier Friday, jurors heard a starkly different account from the officer, Robert Gonzalez. Gonzalez testified that Green ignored orders to drop his gun and instead pointed at Gonzalez and his partner before Gonzalez opened fire.

“I thought I was gonna die,” Gonzalez said. “I had no choice.”

Green died on the way to a hospital. A bullet had struck his back and pierced his heart and lungs. His gun was found in a vacant lot 75 feet from where he fell, according to court records.

Surveillance video from a nearby liquor store played Tuesday showed Green fumble a gun, then double back to pick it up before taking off up the street during the chase.

In her deposition, Whitehead said Green didn’t appear to be carrying a weapon when she saw Gonzalez shoot.

Gonzalez was involved in two other fatal police shootings, in 2012 and 2014, in which his partner opened fire. The plaintiff’s attorney was barred from asking Gonzalez about those shootings during the trial.

Jurors will view the rest of Whitehead’s interview, which includes cross-examination, on Monday.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com


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