The family of a teen who was shot and killed by Chicago police while they say he was catching a ride to a late Valentine’s Day dinner with his girlfriend has filed a lawsuit against the city and the officer involved.
Alice Martin said she wants answers after her 17-year-old son Michael Elam was shot and killed in February.
“I was told that he didn’t really even stand a chance,” Martin said. “There was no warning, there was no ‘halt, stop, don’t run’ – the officer just fired.”
Martin filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the city and the officer who opened fire on her son, alleging the police department has not explained why the teen was killed.
“We filed this lawsuit because four months since the shooting we have not received an answer, an explanation, any kind of justification for this deadly use of force,” said the family’s attorney Jeffrey Neslund.
Police at the time said Elam was shot and killed during an “armed confrontation” with officers in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood.
According to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the teen was attempting to flee from officers after the car he was in crashed during an attempted traffic stop.
"During the foot pursuit, the officer encountered the individual and discharged their weapon," COPA said in a statement.
Elam’s family said the teen had caught a ride with friends so he could go out for a late Valentine’s Day dinner with his girlfriend. The car he was in ended up in a chase and when it stopped, police say Elam and others in the car fled on foot.
The officers recovered weapons from the scene, and another man is in custody in connection with the incident.
“What the body cameras show are officers searching Michael for a weapon, instead what they found in his pockets were his cellphone and earbuds,” Neslund said.
COPA has been investigating since the shooting but said they are “unable to provide an update at this time.”
Chicago police declined to comment on pending litigation.
“We want justice for my son who we just feel was wrongfully and fatally killed for no reason,” Martin said.