Chicago, IL – An armed man allegedly involved in a drug transaction was fatally shot by undercover officers during a narcotics investigation on June 6, police said.
Chicago police said that Maurice Granton, 24, pulled a handgun as he was running away from officers, the Associated Press reported.
Narcotics officers were alerted to the transaction after the Chicago PD’s Strategic Decision Support Centers spotted the exchange using surveillance cameras in the area, department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Chicago Tribune.
They were dispatched to the 300 block of West 47th Street, and encountered Granton at approximately 8:15 p.m., WBBM reported.
He immediately fled on foot and ignored officers’ orders to stop, police said.
During the chase, Granton allegedly pulled out a handgun, and an officer shot him during the “armed encounter,” police said.
Granton was rushed to a local hospital as an angry crowd began to convene near the scene of the shooting, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“People were crying,” said resident Frederick Hill, who was walking to a nearby liquor store shortly after the incident. “They wanted to fight.”
Tensions grew at the hospital, where Granton’s family and friends gathered to await word on his condition.
Hospital authorities attempted to relocate the crowd to a nearby lobby, which prompted loud arguments from some in the group.
Officers from University of Chicago Police Department joined Chicago PD and locked down the area by forming a line outside the emergency room.
Granton was pronounced dead approximately 30 minutes after he arrived at the hospital, but his relatives said they were not informed of his passing until several hours later.
According to the Office of Police Accountability, which is handling the shooting investigation, an unnamed officer fired at Granton three times during the encounter, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Granton died of a gunshot wound to the back, the Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled.
Investigators recovered Granton’s handgun at the scene, and said there was physical evidence that the weapon had been fired, WGN reported.
No officers were shot during the encounter, but one sergeant suffered a possible broken ankle during the chase, according to the Associated Press.
Guglielmi released a photo of Granton’s weapon in a Twitter post on June 6.
Surveillance footage recorded prior to the officer-involved shooting showed Granton holding a semiautomatic handgun out on the street. The video was released by Guglielmi on June 7.
“This video is … being released in response to claims that offender was unarmed and the weapon was planted by CPD officers,” Guglielmi told the Chicago Tribune.
Granton’s family said they did not believe he had a gun, and said he had turned his life around since the births of his two daughters.
“Since when does running validate somebody getting shot?” his sister, Joanna Varnado asked the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t understand that. You’re not being offensive, you’re being defensive.”
The family’s attorney, Antonio Romanucci, has demanded that the department release bodycam footage of the incident immediately, and said that the content of the video would determine whether or not the family would file a lawsuit, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“We want the bodycam, we want any pod cameras, we want any other private security camera detail released so that the public and the mother of these children, the family, can determine for themselves,” Romanucci said. “Was there really an armed confrontation?”
In an interview, Varnado told the Chicago Tribune that Granton was an “entrepreneur” who “worked very hard,” to provide for his one-year-old and 7-month old daughters.
Just days prior to the fatal shooting, police found Granton lying in an alley with a gunshot graze wound near his right eye, the Chicago Tribune reported.
He refused to cooperate with officers during the encounter, police said.
Granton had previously been convicted of theft and robbery, and had been arrested for drug possession and trespassing on several occasions.