Family Of 17-Year-Old Michael Elam Jr. Sues City, Police Officer Over Fatal Shooting; Alleging ‘Unreasonable And Unjustifiable Excessive Force’


CHICAGO (CBS) — The family of 17-year-old Michael Elam Jr., who was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer in February, has filed a lawsuit against the city, accusing the officer of “unreasonable and unjustifiable excessive force.”

Elam was supposed to graduate from West Town Academy High School on Friday, but instead his family has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the officer who shot and killed him.

The lawsuit identifies the officer who shot Elam as Adolf Bolanos, and accuses the officer and the city of excessive force and wrongful death. The lawsuit claims Elam was unarmed and running away from police when Bolanos shot him multiple times in the back of the head and lower back on Feb. 16.

That contradicts the Chicago Police Department’s initial account of the shooting.

Police have said, around 8:30 p.m. that day, officers were trying to make a traffic stop near 21st and Keeler, when the car crashed into a parked vehicle. Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi stated on Twitter that “armed individuals exited the car and got into a confrontation with officers,” when police shot Elam.

Guglielmi said a weapon was recovered at the scene, and tweeted a photo of a gun next to an evidence marker.

The Elam family’s lawsuit acknowledges the teenager began to flee police after the crash, but states he was “unarmed and not a threat to anyone” when Bolanos shot him.

“The acts of Defendant Bolanos were a deliberate and malicious deprivation of the Plaintiff’s Constitutional rights against excessive force,” the lawsuit alleges. “As a result of the unreasonable and unjustifiable excessive force used by the Defendant Bolanos, Michael Elam suffered fatal injuries.”

The lawsuit also claims Bolanos failed to activate his body camera as required by Chicago Police Department policy, and that the officer and his partner did not call for an ambulance until five minutes after the shooting.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating the shooting.

Elam’s family is represented by attorney Jeffrey Neslund, who negotiated a $5 million settlement with the city for the family of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, without even filing a lawsuit, after the teen was shot and killed by Officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014. Van Dyke is serving a 6-year, 9-month prison sentence for second-degree murder in McDonald’s death.

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