Family of unarmed man fatally shot by off-duty Chicago cop seeks justice
By Larry Yellen, FOX 32 News Legal Analyst
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -
The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has prompted calls for more police to start wearing cameras that would record their behavior.
Now, FOX 32 News has the story of a fatal shooting of an unarmed man that was caught on video in Chicago. However, the victim's family said they're still seeking justice.
Video from a surveillance camera in the lobby of a CHA building on the near West Side shows 28-year-old Marlon Horton in a baseball cap, the brother of Jarrod Horton.
“He was my younger brother, he was a good guy, like any younger brother,” Jarrod said.
Marlon was at the CHA building to pick up his girlfriend, but his cellphone had died. Security guards would not let him upstairs, and one of those guards was an off-duty Chicago Police Officer.
Marlon eventually leaves and then urinates on or near the officer's SUV. He then exchanges words with the two guards, until the off duty-cop appears to initiate a scuffle. As Marlon escapes, he appears to pull out some of the female guard's hair.
Both guards then pull out their weapons.
The verbal exchanges continue, and as Horton is moving toward the off-duty officer, the officer shoots him. Jarrod Horton's civil rights lawsuit alleges the shooting was not justified. It identifies the off-duty cop as Kenneth F. Walker.
“It's hard to see them in a situation where he didn't have to die, you know? I felt like they just murdered him,” Jarrod said.
Last year after the shooting, a police spokesperson said the officer shot, quote, "in fear for his safety." Police reports suggest Marlon lunged for the officer's weapon. The Horton's family attorney, Jeffrey Granich, said the video suggests otherwise.
“Despite the fact that the police say he was going for a weapon, he's five feet away from a police officer who basically executes him,” Granich said.
Granich said the guards could have backed off and called for help, or if necessary, subdue Marlon without using their weapons.
Marlon's lawyer also claims that the conduct of the two security guards after the shooting on West Monroe was just as shocking at the shooting itself.
“I believe what the video shows is a complete disregard for his safety, his well-being, and ultimately his life,” Granich added.
After the shooting, the video shows Officer Walker walking back into the building. Police reports said both guards called 911. Marlon can be seen still moving in the video, but neither guard appears to offer any assistance.
“She picks up her morning coffee as my client is dying at her feet. She doesn't attempt to stop the bleeding, she doesn't attempt to provide first aid, she makes sure she gets her coffee,” Granich said.
The security company did not respond to FOX 32's questions. Our efforts to reach the two guards themselves on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
So, did either of them have an obligation to help Marlon once he was shot?
“Under the law they really have no duty to rescue the person. They called 911, they stepped back, they stayed on scene, they waited for Chicago fire department to arrive, and that's what they're supposed to do,” said veteran defense attorney Joe Lopez.
Law professor Richard Kling, also a defense attorney, disagrees.
“I would think they have an obligation to at least comfort the individual and keep the individual comforted until medical assistance comes and does what they're supposed to do. Police take an oath to serve and protect, and I think serving and protecting is more than just calling 911,” Kling said.
In two weeks, it'll be one year since Marlon Horton was killed. His family is planning a vigil on September 6.
The Independent Police Review Authority's investigation into the shooting is not yet complete. A CHA spokesperson would not comment on the shooting, and a Chicago police spokesman told FOX 32 the department takes the issue of office-involved shootings seriously, but cannot comment due to the ongoing IPRA investigation.