Shot on the 4th of July by Chicago Cops, Veteran Says

     CHICAGO (CN) – A decorated veteran was drinking a beer on the street last July 4 when Chicago police chased and shot him five times, he claims in Federal Court.
     Levail Smith says he fought in Operation Desert Storm with the U.S. Marine Corps, service that earned him three Bronze Stars, a Combat Action Ribbon, a Navy Unit Commendation, the National Defense Services Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) and the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait).
     That tour also left Smith with post-traumatic stress disorder, however, and he says qualifies as fully disabled.
     Smith was doing his laundry in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood at approximately 11:30 a.m. on July 4, 2014, when he stepped outside and joined a group of men standing on the sidewalk, according to a federal complaint Smith filed last week.
     He says one of the men handed him a can of beer, and that an unmarked police car immediately descended on him after he took a sip.
     Seeing Officer Tim Manning place his hand on his gun after getting out of the car, Smith says the threatening gesture triggered his PTSD, causing him to fear for his life and run.
     Manning then called for backup, causing “scores of Chicago police officers” to converge on the area, heightening Smith’s fear, according to the complaint.
     Smith says he jumped a 6-foot fence, ran through an apartment after a resident opened his door, and exited the building through a back door.
     There, “several officers were waiting with their guns drawn, positioned at different angles, and shouting contradictory commands to turn around, put his hands up and get on the ground,” the complaint states.
     When Manning caught up with him, Smith says he had his arms in the air, visibly panicked, and had nothing in his hands. The veteran was allegedly screaming and shouting to get the attention of apartment residents.
     Though there was no weapon visible on Smith, Manning pointed his gun and fired at Smith multiple times, prompting Officers Hector Davilla and Allen Finley to join in, according to the complaint.
     Smith says he was hit five times in his chest, stomach, arm and legs, and grazed by two bullets on his face and neck.
     “At no time in their encounter with the plaintiff did any officer observe plaintiff in possession of a weapon of any kind,” the complaint states.
     “At no time in their encounter with plaintiff did any officer observe plaintiff with any object in his hand other than the beer he held and discarded at the intersection of Howard and Greenview.”
     Smith claims the officers gave false accounts of the events to their supervisors and the media, and falsely characterized the incident as a “suicide by cop” attempt.
     The official police statement says Smith yelled, “I have a gun, you’ll have to shoot me,” placing the officers in fear for their safety.
     Smith seeks damages for excessive force, assault and battery.
     He is represented by Lance Northcutt.

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