A man who was part of a funeral party was fatally shot by a Chicago police sergeant Saturday after a road rage incident escalated into a fight involving an off-duty Chicago firefighter and another police officer on the Far Southwest Side, authorities said.
The shooting happened about 3 p.m. Saturday in the 11100 block of South Troy Street in the city’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood, according to Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office identified the slain man as Joshua Beal, 25, of Indianapolis. Relatives said he was in the Chicago area serving as a pallbearer at his cousin’s funeral.
Police said Beal was shot to death after failing to drop a gun when confronted by the sergeant. They said they did not know whether Beal had fired his weapon but were investigating.
Relatives of Beal, who blamed police for the incident, said Beal legally owned the gun and did not fire it.
Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who lives nearby, gave a short statement at the scene saying a road rage incident turned into a physical confrontation that “involved a Fire Department member and multiple subjects.’’
Beal and others had just left a funeral in several cars and were driving to their next destination when the incident occurred, Beal’s relatives said. According to Guglielmi, they were stopped in traffic near a firehouse when an off-duty Chicago firefighter saw one of the vehicles and notified the driver that it was illegally blocking the fire lane and causing delays.
The firefighter then began arguing with three people who got out of their cars, said Guglielmi. While this was going on, a woman inside a nearby business saw the argument, called police and then became involved in the fight, the police spokesman said.
At this point, an off-duty Chicago police officer in a barbershop nearby also spotted the fight, approached the scene, identified himself as an officer and became involved in the brawl, Guglielmi said.
A sergeant in full uniform who was driving to work at the Morgan Park Police District then stopped when he saw the melee, the spokesman said.
“There’s a sergeant on his way to work. He now sees a man with a gun in his hand. He gets out, announces his office in full uniform,’’ Guglielmi said.
The sergeant displayed his weapon, Guglielmi said. As the incident escalated and the man with the gun did not drop his weapon, shots were fired, and the man was hit multiple times, the police spokesman said.
Paramedics took Beal to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in critical condition, said Chicago Fire Department Cmdr. Jeff Lyle. He was pronounced dead there at 3:44 p.m.
His weapon was found at the scene, Guglielmi said.
Several other people suffered non-life-threatening injuries, including the off-duty firefighter and off-duty police officer, Guglielmi said. They were taken to an area hospital. The sergeant was not injured and was interviewed at Area South headquarters.
The version of events provided by Beal’s relatives differed from the police account in a number of ways.
Cordney Boxley, 23, who identified herself as Beal’s sister, said she was driving west on 111th Street behind her 17-year-old sister, who was behind the wheel of another car. Their female cousin was a front-seat passenger in the 17-year-old’s car.
The relatives along with others in the caravan were headed to Southwest Memorial Chapel after burying their cousin Marcus Washington, she said.
Suddenly, Boxley said, a car cut her off and then tried to run her 17-year-old sister off the road. She said her family as well as the motorist who had cut her off — who she believed was a Chicago police officer — stopped and got out of their cars.
At some point the man pushed her female cousin to the ground and pulled a gun on her, pointing it at her face, according to Boxley.
Boxley said many of the men in the family began walking toward the man, confronting him.
She said the man got inside his car but exited again and “he just started shooting,’’ hitting the windshield of a car containing Beal, who had pulled his gun when he saw the man holding a gun on their cousin. Boxley said Beal legally owned the gun and did not fire it.
Boxley said the man pulled Beal out of his front passenger seat and began shooting him.
“I was hoping my brother wasn’t dead,’’ said Boxley.
After the shooting, some of Beal’s family stood at the northeast corner of 111th Street, clinging to one another with tears in their eyes.
Tiffaney Boxley, Beal’s mother, said he was the father of two children, a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, and that his fiancee was a stay-at-home mother. Beal, who was a pallbearer for Washington, lived in Indianapolis and was in town for the services.
“Chicago police gunned my baby down like a vicious animal,” Tiffaney Boxley said through tears.
Family members said they would consult a lawyer. “The police are going to pay for this,” said Miranda Macklin, a family member. “Justice will be served.”
As night fell and neighbors walked by, some of them began yelling at a witness who was showing video of the incident and speaking to reporters. The neighbors said the area was “very pro-police” and that the shooting was justified.
“It’s always like ‘The police did this, the police did that, oh my God, they shot him for no reason at all,’” one woman said. “Really? You really think it was unprovoked?”
The Independent Police Review Authority is investigating.
Source: Chicago Tribune