Ill. police shooting of naked man 'justified'

Dan Rozek, The Chicago Sun-Times
Copyright 2006 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The fatal shooting of an unarmed, naked man by a Glen Ellyn police officer was "tragic" but justified because of the man's violent attacks on his infant son and the police officer, DuPage County State's Attorney Joseph Birkett said Wednesday.

Benjamin Uwumarogie died April 26 after being shot once in the head by Officer Jason Bradley, who had answered a 911 call reporting domestic violence at Uwumarogie's Glen Ellyn apartment.

"It is my opinion that while the shooting death of Benjamin Uwumarogie is tragic, Officer Bradley was clearly justified in the use of deadly force," Birkett said as he announced he wouldn't press criminal charges against Bradley as a result of the deadly shooting.

The decision follows a monthlong investigation by the DuPage County Major Crimes Task Force. Birkett said that probe "clearly" indicated the Glen Ellyn officer used deadly force only as a last resort.

An attorney for Uwumarogie's family immediately ripped the findings, saying the 22-year-old College of DuPage football player was ''brutally murdered" by police.

"I don't care how many different stories they tell about what [Benjamin] was doing . . . he had nothing on him that would make them believe he would take someone else's life," Uwumarogie's mother, Portia Uwumarogie said. "It's a coverup."

Attorney Benjamin Nwoye said family members believe Uwumarogie was killed because he was African-American.

"This is a racial issue," Nwoye said. "If he was a white male acting bizarre . . . he never would have been shot," he said.

Family members have already filed a federal civil rights suit contending the shooting wasn't justified. Nwoye said Wednesday relatives likely will press for a federal investigation into the shooting.

Political influence?

Many questions remain unanswered, Nwoye said, suggesting the DuPage County investigation was rushed in part because Birkett is running on the Republican ticket for Illinois lieutenant governor.

"It's reached in haste because of politics," Nwoye said.

Birkett said the review was "based on the facts and the law."

"It's not a close question," Birkett said. "The officer was clearly justified in the use of force."

Bradley was the first officer to reach Uwumarogie's Briar Street apartment after police received a 911 call about a woman and baby being beaten at the address.

Uwumarogie was naked outside when Bradley arrived and briefly picked up a 3-year-old boy playing nearby, holding the child up between himself and the officer, Birkett said.

Uwumarogie then put down the boy and raced toward his own apartment -- prompting Bradley to try to restrain him, then to use pepper spray, Birkett said.

Uwumarogie continued into his apartment, grabbed his 1-year-old son, jumped into the bathtub and tried to drown the toddler, Birkett said.

Bradley jumped into the tub and pulled the infant free, then handed him off to another man in the apartment. At that point, Birkett said, Uwumarogie fiercely attacked the officer, who was punched in the head and face so hard he was on the verge of losing consciousness, Birkett said.

At that point, Bradley drew his gun and fired once, striking Uwumarogie in the head.

Contributing: Monifa Thomas


Photo: BENJAMIN UWUMAROGIE: Attacked cop, son

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