Aug 31, 2020
Chicago Police Department Press Conference Transcript August 31: Weekend Violence & Protests
The Chicago Police Department held a press conference on August 31 to address the violence and protests that happened over the weekend. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Superintendent David Brown: (00:00)
Morning, let me know when you’re ready, cameraman.
Superintendent David Brown: (00:06)
I must say, cameraman, if you never get any kudos about the hard work you do for your networks, I know that’s got to be a tough job.
Superintendent David Brown: (00:22)
It looks like everyone’s ready. Sure.
Superintendent David Brown: (00:30)
Let me start by giving an update on our two officers that were shot over the weekend. One officer who was shot in the shoulder, where the bullet went in and out, has been treated and released, is back home recovering still. The second officer who was shot a couple of times, one bullet went across his upper torso and another bullet hit his arm, he is still being treated in the hospital for either more tests and/or surgeries in order to get him back up on his feet and back home for a further recovery.
Superintendent David Brown: (01:15)
Chief of Detectives, Brendan Deenihan will give you an update after I finish my remarks on the investigation of the shooting.
Superintendent David Brown: (01:26)
So that two officers that were shot brings the total number of officers shot to 41, shot at 41. Let me repeat that: there were 41 officers shot at so far this year. 10 were shot. Another way to say that is 51 officers was shot at or shot this year in Chicago. Chicago police officers. 51 shot at or shot so far this year, and shot. A total number of 126 guns were recovered this weekend. And the reason why that number is brought up is that repeatedly every Monday, after a weekend, we talk about the number of guns recovered. And I mention every one of those interactions are a potential deadly force encounter because we had that happen when our two officers were shot. They spotted a gun, attempted to recover the gun and arrest the subject, and they were shot. So just this weekend’s 126 guns recovered. Each one of those were a potential deadly force encounter.
Superintendent David Brown: (02:50)
91 gun arrests this weekend. That brings the total number of guns recovered in Chicago in 2020 to 6,967. Total number of guns recovered in Chicago so far this year by Chicago police officers is 6,967. Every one of those 6,967 guns recovered are a potential deadly force encounter.
Superintendent David Brown: (03:27)
I’d like to move to another subject. So the two officers shot were part of a team of officers that we convened this year to fight or reduce violent crime, the Summer Mobile team that works with our Community Safety team. So it’s a combination of two teams merged together for one big citywide team, primarily deployed on the South and West sides to address the violence we’ve seen this summer. That citywide team was a reorganization that I put in place that began, that realization began, at my four week point. I had been on the job four weeks. I realized that we weren’t aligned with what was happening on the ground given not only the pandemic, but the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis and the increasing violence.
Superintendent David Brown: (04:20)
This was all in April, happening in April and May, where I was making this assessment, this diagnosis of our alignment of our resources and I decided to reorg the department. That reorganization was in full effect, fully implemented, last part of July. And since then, it’s been about six weeks. Murders are down compared to the previous six weeks before they were created 50%, and shootings are down 15%. I’ll say that again. I was on the job four weeks, decided that our alignment was not appropriate for the level of not only the restrictions on COVID, but also the civil unrest associated with the George Floyd incident and the increasing violence as it relates to what’s happened in protests. So we re-orged the department that was in full effect with a citywide team on the South side and West sides and a critical incident response team in our downtown. Those were new teams created in response to what was happening on the ground, different from the reorganization that had taken place before my tenure started.
Superintendent David Brown: (05:40)
And since that reorganization, murders are down 50% compared to the previous six weeks. So it’s been in place for six weeks, so the six weeks since these teams have been created and the previous six weeks, murders are 50% and shootings are down 15%.
Superintendent David Brown: (06:01)
Overall crime this year is down 19% in Chicago for 2020. Overall crime is down 19% so far this year in Chicago. Our clearance rates for our homicides are over 40%. have some room to improve, but that’s a significant improvement. Our weekend murders, we had 10 murders over the weekend and 42 shootings with 52 shooting victims. And now I’ll bring up a Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan for remarks on the shooting of our two officers, for an update on that investigation. Brendan?
Brendan Deenihan: (06:55)
Thanks Superintendent. And just to echo with the superintendent had already stated, I just want to thank the officers, obviously. Specifically, the officers involved, the one officer, as the superintendent mentioned, is already home resting. The other officer is still in the hospital after undergoing one surgery, but I want to thank the officers and their team and the detectives and everybody involved who actually brought this case to a conclusion.
Brendan Deenihan: (07:20)
So the defendant in this case is Jefron Williams or Rashad Williams. And he’s charged with seven counts of attempt murder. I believe everybody knows the basic information, but the officers assigned to the citywide team that the superintendent was speaking of, they went to perform a traffic stop on this vehicle and the vehicle, basically the vehicle, the officers had to turn around, they were going to perform the traffic stop on the car.
Brendan Deenihan: (07:44)
They had to turn around. By the time they came up to the car, this defendant had already parked and he’d actually crawled into the trunk of his car. He was able to pull down the backseat and crawl into the trunk of his car. His vehicle has extremely tinted windows. By the time the officers got up there and they were able to flash the flashlights inside, they could see the gun with the extended clip in plain view. And that’s when they started getting on the radio and all this is on their body-worn cameras are all activated. So I was able to review some of the video myself, which I’m sure will be pushed out later, but the officers are stating that they can see the gun. And at that point, the defendant starts crawling back out of the backseat and towards the front seat where the gun is.
Brendan Deenihan: (08:27)
That’s when things escalate, the officers have to make a split second decision. He’s near the gun. He’s not complying. He’s refusing to come out of the car. He’s extremely close to the gun. That’s when they have to break the window and remove him from the car. At that time, he does have the gun on him. He’s still not complying. He’s not giving up his hands. The officers are trying to arrest him, trying to grab his hands, as you can imagine how chaotic it is, it’s super fast. As they roll them over, that’s when he starts shooting and we have the two officers shot. And at that point then, other officers returned fire as the defendant is trying to make his escape and he is placed into custody and the gun is recovered.
Brendan Deenihan: (09:08)
So that’s the basics of what occurred. And I’m just want to thank the officers. Once again, they did an amazing job and split second decisions on what they need to do to protect their own safety, but also that the safety of the community. So they did an excellent job. And let’s just hope that the officer who was struck, he had some, as the superintendent mentioned, he had some damage to his lung and to his colon. So he has a long way of recovery ahead of him. So please keep him and his family in your prayers. And that is all I have right now. I’m going to turn it over to a Malcolm Crawford, who is the Austin African-American Business Network Association. And then we can take some questions after that. Malcolm?
Malcolm Crawford: (09:57)
Hello, everyone. So I’m here today because two public servants who we’ve asked to do a job could have lost their lives due to this senseless gun violence. And in an area that I love, the West side, the Lawndale community, and the Austin community, and we’re looking to continue the greatness of those communities. Some of that time, Austin gets a bad rap, Lawndale gets a bad rap, and sometimes the officers get a bad rap, but this is the time for us to continue working together, continue building relationships. We’ve started some wonderful partnerships and we’re going to keep on working together, the police department and the community, because there’s some great work happening, just as the superintendent just spoke about, there’s some great work and things happening in our community. Thank you.
Superintendent David Brown: (11:06)
I’ll take questions.
Speaker 4: (11:08)
Superintendent Brown, I noticed on Sunday you guys had what seemed like a rare 4:00 AM Sunday morning press conference. I can’t help but wonder was that because of kind of the climate we’re in, where things are at an all time high. Misinformation, we have seen, tends to spread very quickly on social media. Was that in order to kind of get in front of that? The timing just did seem a little different than we’ve seen before?
Superintendent David Brown: (11:34)
Yeah. That is purposeful, that we’re trying as best we can to convey as many facts as early as we can to the public. And again, it speaks to rumors and misinformation that we have seen, not just in Chicago, but across the country sparked unrest and other destructive behaviors. And we’d much rather have the facts for everyone to digest and come to their own conclusions, but none of that justifies criminal behavior. But again, we’re just trying to speak to being transparent as quickly as we can.
Speaker 4: (12:12)
Along that note. I know that we just heard about the body camera footage that I think you said should be released sometime soon. Will that be released today? Obviously we’re seeing a lot of questions. I’ve seen some family members of the defendant negating what was alleged yesterday. So is that body camera footage going to be put out today?
Superintendent David Brown: (12:34)
We obviously had early conversations about how soon should we put out body camera footage, not just for this particular shooting, that’s done in coordination with COPA, who is in charge of the shooting investigation. We have talked with COPA about this particular issue, particularly as it relates to more recent outcomes where misinformation likely caused a negative sentiment toward the police and we’re trying to build trust. So the sooner we can get the body camera out, I’m more inclined to get it out sooner rather than later. I’ll let COPA comment on their thoughts. But I would much rather have it out as soon as we’re able to get all of the evidence of the body cam footage. Usually it takes some time to go through every body cam that that caught parts of the scene. But as soon as we have that comprehensive video review, I want to put it out soon, but I have to do that in coordination with COPA. But at some point, if we sense that the public is reacting negatively based on misinformation and looting, we’ll make that call.
Speaker 5: (13:47)
Superintendent, on the [inaudible 00:13:48] shooting at the Pancake House, I was wondering if you have any more details you can share about the man who was killed and possibly if you could confirm if he’s a high ranking gang member who had a bounty on his head, which led to that shooting?
Superintendent David Brown: (13:59)
I’ll let Chief of Detectives Deenihan update that for you.
Brendan Deenihan: (14:06)
So obviously, as you know, we’re less than 24 hours. So that’s a pretty active and ongoing investigation right now. So I’m not going to comment. The victim was targeted. He was 100% targeted. They stood over and shot him after they originally shot. But I don’t have his full background, not going to comment on his where he’s at in a gang structure or anything like that. We have a couple of different motives that we’re looking at, nothing that I’m comfortable giving out to the public right now because it’s not secured, but we’re working on it. And speaking of just what I always kind of talk about is the video. We do have video of the incident and we’re working with the detectives and they’re kind of doing their investigation right now. And as soon as possible, as soon as we can, I don’t know when that is, it could be today or tomorrow, depending on how the investigation proceeds in the next 48 hours, we’ll probably be pushing something out, asking for your guys’ help, and specifically the community’s help, which we are always are asking for if we have good enough video, which may be able to help identify a suspect in this case.
Brendan Deenihan: (15:06)
But very active and ongoing, but the victim was 100% targeted. And so I know there is great concern in the community, but this victim was targeted for this incident.
Speaker 6: (15:19)
Superintendent, can you talk about the weekend protests? Where you are happy with the way that the deployment worked and the way that everyone interacted on this shooting?
Superintendent David Brown: (15:28)
Before I get to your question, which is a really relevant question. I want to follow up on your question about this particular shooting and Brendan answered it really well that at some point, when we do have information, what will solicit the public’s help, whether that’s a clip of a video or that’s a still photo from a video for identification at some point.
Superintendent David Brown: (15:52)
So I mentioned clearance rates are above 40%. Much of that has happened recently, given more people have come forward from the community to solve homicides. And I just wanted to thank the community for coming forward and to encourage the community to continue coming forward, to bring these violent offenders to justice. So I just wanted to give a thumbs up to the community for coming forward much more recently to solve some homicides and to encourage them to continue to come forward.
Superintendent David Brown: (16:26)
Now, regarding the protest this weekend, we obviously had a lot of preparation it relation to the Mag Mile protest, it didn’t get the numbers that was solicited. And we again are cognizant of likely, in most protests, there may be embedded violent agitators or others who might want to loot. So I think the best way to describe our preparations and our ideas about the go-forward as it relates to protecting our retail corridors in our downtown, in our neighborhoods, is criminals only have to be right once and we have to be right every day, every hour of the day, we just can’t let our guard down for a moment. Criminals can probe and prod for the weakest parts of the day, whether that’s two in the morning, four in the morning. And so our strategy is to be prepared for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in all of our retail corridors, and to practice that preparation, to get a sense of confidence, not only internally, but to show that sense of confidence to not only our business community, but to our residents, that we are prepared.
Superintendent David Brown: (17:41)
And we are not letting our guard down, regardless of whether a protest proceeds peacefully on Saturday or not, that we’ll continue to do everything we can. And I’ll go back to this message: for anyone questioning the commitment and dedication of our police department and our officers, 51 officers were shot this year. 10 of those shots at were hits. We’ve taken 6,900 guns off the street. You should not question the commitment, dedication, bravery, or courage of Chicago police department. Our officers are doing their job and they’re doing it in a way we should all be proud.
Superintendent David Brown: (18:31)
Any other questions?
Speaker 4: (18:32)
Superintendent? Looking [inaudible 00:18:34] to the incident in Inglewood a couple week’s back, this is second time the new Summer Patrol unit has been involved in some sort of shooting. Are there changes that you think need to be made to the program?
Superintendent David Brown: (18:44)
Violent offenders need to be kept in jail longer. Next question?
Speaker 6: (18:48)
Superintendent, does CPD have any reason to believe that police have been, or are currently being targeted for harm by Chicago gangs in any organized way? If that is the case, what are officer’s being told to do that is any different than usual precautions?
Superintendent David Brown: (19:03)
I think a better answer would be violent offenders have acted with impunity much more than we’ve seen in the past so far this year. Whether they’re associated with a gang or not, we’ve seen increasing violence throughout, shooting babies and kids with impunity with no regard for innocent bystanders. And so I wouldn’t say that it’s associated with a specific, whether it’s a gang, a culture, I think overall, there’s this sense of lawlessness amongst violent offenders. We need to, as police officers and as community members, we need to push back fervently against lawlessness and give no quarters to people who would commit any type of crime, whether that’s looting, public disorder, or violence, give no quarters to that type of behavior. Go ahead.
Speaker 6: (20:00)
Is there any suggestion that police are at a high risk right now being targeted and whether it’s gangs or other groups, are there any intelligence suggesting that to your team and are officers being warned?
Superintendent David Brown: (20:10)
I think it’s bigger than the suggestion. I think 51 offers being shot at or shot in one year, I think that quadruples any previous year in Chicago’s history. So I think there’s more than a suggestion that people are seeking to do harm to cops.
Speaker 6: (20:27)
Has the precaution level-
Superintendent David Brown: (20:28)
We are. We obviously are. We’re hyper vigilant anyway, as a profession, but when officers are shot here and other parts of the country it makes us even more concerned about the safety of our officers. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.