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Published on June 11, 2024
Chicago Settles Lawsuit Over 2016 Fatal Police Shooting of Joshua Beal Amid Racially Charged TensionsSource: Google Street View

The city of Chicago has reached a settlement in a lawsuit stemming from a 2016 fatal police shooting of Joshua Beal, an event that heightened racial tensions in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood. The accord, reached just days before a civil trial was scheduled to start, was confirmed last Friday, though the exact terms remain undisclosed, as reported on June 10th by the Chicago Tribune. Beal, from Indianapolis, was fatally shot by two off-duty officers following what was described as a road rage incident after his family left a funeral.

According to CBS Chicago, the incident unfolded on the afternoon of November 5th, 2016, outside a firehouse on West 111th Street, when an altercation escalated between Beal's family and the officers. Initially triggered by an off-duty Chicago firefighter's complaint over a blocked fire lane, the situation resulted in a physical and verbal confrontation, during which Beal was alleged to have pointed a firearm at the officers before being shot.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said after the altercation that a witness saw the incident and contacted the authorities. It was apparent the person who was shot had a weapon, Johnson told reporters. Contrasting accounts emerged from Beal's family members, with his sister Cordney Boxley claiming that Beal never fired his legally carried weapon and was unjustly attacked by the then-off-duty officer who did not identify himself as such.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the November 2016 incident also led to protests by Black Lives Matter activists, who encountered racial hostility from local residents in response. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability concluded its review of the incident, finding that the shooting aligned with the Chicago Police Department's policy but did announce a 90-day suspension for one of the involved officers, Joseph Treacy, over an unrelated failure to register a gun with CPD.

In the wake of the shooting, tensions flared between Black Lives Matter activists and Mount Greenwood residents, culminating in a standoff on the evening of the event. The incident and subsequent protests underlined the racial divides that sometimes simmer and, at others, boil over in American cities. While the settlement closes a chapter on this particular case, the underlying issues it exposed persist, shaping and challenging the discourse on race, justice, and policing in communities across the nation.