Family members of a 24-year-old man who was fatally shot by Chicago police have filed a lawsuit against the city and the officer who shot him, alleging that Maurice Granton Jr. was not an imminent threat and did not need to be met with deadly force during the encounter.
The lawsuit filed in Cook County comes days after the release of body-camera video showing an officer firing at Granton as he sought to hop a fence. It says a bullet severed Granton's spine as he grabbed the fence with both hands. It alleges Granton wasn't a threat then and the officer could have used a stun gun.
Granton was shot at around 8:15 p.m. on June 6 in the 300 block of East 47th Street in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the city's South Side, officials said.
Officers were conducting a narcotics investigation when Granton "fled on foot prompting officers to give chase," Chicago police said in a statement.
"Responding officers commanded him to stop at which point the man produced a weapon and an armed encounter between the offender and police ensued," CPD said.
Granton was taken in critical condition to an area hospital where he later died, according to police.
While authorities said the initial investigation centered on drugs, his family insisted that Granton was not involved in narcotics or carrying a weapon.
"I do not believe that. He was not a drug suspect," his sister Joanna Varnado said after the shooting. "He was from around that area. He did hang around there. But drug suspect? No, not at all."
When asked if Granton would carry a gun, Varnado replied, "No, absolutely not."
Chicago police said investigators recovered a weapon from the scene, and a CPD spokesman tweeted a photo of the handgun on the ground – but Granton's family said it didn't belong to him. An attorney for his family said the gun found at the scene was about 20 to 25 feet from where he was fatally shot.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability released body camera video from the shooting on July 25, showing an officer firing from a sidewalk as Granton attempted to climb a fence.
"[The officer] was looking at him. Then he started to run into the alley – and I heard shots, five shots," witness Joseph Lambus said. "They shot him in the back. They shot him in the back."
Family members said Granton was shot multiple times and an autopsy revealed he had been shot in the back.
His family argued that the video showing the shooting contradicts the police narrative that Granton was involved in an "armed confrontation." COPA has not yet ruled on whether the shooting was justified, as the agency continues to investigate.