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Two Chicago Officers Fired for 2016 Shooting Death of Black Teen, But Third Cop Who Fired the Fatal Shot Remains on Force

The Chicago Police Board has voted to fire two officers involved in the 2016 shooting that killed Black teen Paul O’Neal, 18.

In a decision announced last Thursday, the board ruled that cops Michael Coughlin Jr. and his partner Jose Torres endangered the lives of civilians and fellow officers when they fired at a moving car carrying O’Neal and a juvenile passenger as it zoomed down a residential street, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Paul O'Neal
Paul O’Neal, the Chicago teen fatally shot by police on July 28, 2016. (Photo: O’Neal family, via CBS Chicago)

Coughlin and Torres were found guilty of all the internal charges against them and dismissed after a unanimous 8-0 vote.

The shooting unfolded July 28, 2016, when police were attempting to stop a Jaguar convertible that had been reported stolen. Coughlin and his partner responded to the call, with Torres using their squad car to block a one-way street in order to keep the car from fleeing.

Torres got out and positioned himself in a grassy area near the sidewalk, a previously released video of the incident shows. As the vehicle, with O’Neal at the wheel, came speeding up the road, the officers opened fire.

The car veered toward Torres at one point, zooming past the parked cruiser before slamming into two police SUVs near 73rd Street and Merrill Avenue. The police board said Coughlin proceeded to shoot at the stolen vehicle from behind, with Torres taking a shot at the car as well.

Video of the incident showed that not only were Coughlin and Merrill firing in the direction of the Jaguar, but also toward a pair of other responding officers. The board said all of this took place in a matter of seconds.

After the crash, authorities said, O’Neal fled the scene and ran into a backyard where a third officer, Jose Diaz, opened fire.

The 18-year-old was killed by a single shot to the back, according to a Cook County medical examiner’s report.

“During the foot pursuit shots were fired by other unidentified officers on the scene and [possibly] by O’Neal,” the report stated, although it was later determined the young man was unarmed.

Coughlin and Torres, who was also disciplined for driving the wrong way up a one-way street, have since turned in their badges.

Diaz remains on the force, however, after the now-defunct Independent Police Review Authority previously ruled the shooting justified, the Sun-Times reports. Still, the Police Board has recommended that he serve a six-month suspension after failing to activate his body camera and for allegedly kicking O’Neal after he was shot.

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