Cops: Shooting Justified: But 'they didn't have to shoot him,' boy's mom says

Frank Main and Annie Sweeney
The Chicago Sun-Times
Copyright 2006 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

A Daisy PowerLine Model 93 BB-gun is at the center of a bitter dispute between Chicago Police -- who say they were justified in shooting a 14-year-old boy because he was pointing the weapon at officers -- and North Side residents who say he never should have been wounded.

Police Supt. Phil Cline said Tuesday that Ellis Woodland refused officers' orders to drop the BB-gun, which was a replica of a deadly 9mm Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol.

"The thing you gotta remember, this police officer has seconds to make a decision when he sees that gun pointed at him," Cline said of the Monday night shooting that has left Woodland in critical condition at Children's Memorial Hospital.

But Woodland's father said he was unaware of his son having any guns.

"I never bought him a BBgun. His mother never bought him a BB-gun," said Ellis Woodland Sr. "They shot him, handcuffed him and left him for dead."

He said he thinks he and his son are being targeted by police because the elder Woodland is a former gang member. He has 33 arrests on his rap sheet and a conviction for misdemeanor battery, records show.

The elder Woodland, who says police harassed his son a few days ago and took his house key, was one of several hundred people who protested the shooting by marching to the Near North police district at 1160 N. Larrabee on Tuesday.


"I know it wasn't justified because they didn't have to shoot him," the teenager's mother said. "The man [officer] said, 'Put it down!' and when he put it down, that's when they started shooting at him, and that's when I heard all the gunshots."

One witness said the boy was trying to put the weapon down when the officer fired, police spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

But Cline said that's not what a panel of police brass and representatives of the Cook County state's attorney's office and the Office of Professional Standards determined after interviewing other witnesses.

Three witnesses told police they saw Woodland reach into a pocket or waistband, lift the BB-gun and point it at two officers, both of whom are in their 30s and have been on the force about six years, Cline said.

Woodland refused the officers' orders to put up his hands and drop the weapon, Belmont Area Cmdr. Tom Byrne said.

One of the officers fired four times at Woodland from about 10 feet away, striking him in the abdomen and thigh and grazing his arm with a third shot. A fourth bullet lodged in the trunk of a car in traffic, police said.


Describing the events that led to the shooting, Cline said a young man had flagged down a sergeant on Division near Sedgwick and pointed to Woodland on a sidewalk, claiming that the teen robbed him.

Officers in a patrol car spotted Woodland, who ran behind a Blockbuster Video, and the officers followed him to Division and Clybourn, where the teen was shot near Cabrini-Green, police said.

Police said they interviewed a 14-year-old who was with Woodland and who also had been carrying a BB-gun he said he got from Woodland.

The boy said they did not rob the passerby who stopped the sergeant but were simply in a dispute with him, Cline said.

Police have not found the man who claimed he had been robbed. Police said they are hoping to speak to him and to Woodland when he recovers. No one has been charged with a crime, police said.

It's illegal to sell, possess or fire a BB-gun in Chicago without a permit from police, said Jennifer Hoyle, a spokeswoman for the city's Law Department. "Certainly, someone his age wouldn't be able to possess one," Hoyle said.

The Web site for Daisy Outdoor Products says the company cannot ship air guns to Chicago, northwest suburban Morton Grove, Buffalo, N.Y., New York City and Philadelphia because of state and local restrictions.

'Pretty good student'

The younger Ellis Woodland had spent Monday celebrating a brother's birthday and was heading to the Franklin School lot for baseball just before he was shot, friends said.

He lives on the West Side with his mother and attends Dvorak School. Relatives said Ellis is an "A-B" student. A Chicago Public Schools spokesman did not have access to his academic records, but school officials described him as a "pretty good student," the spokesman said.

"I got some bad kids,'' his father said. "And he's not one of them.''

Kids who were gathered at Seward Park at Division and Clybourn for a basketball tournament Monday told game referees -- who refused to be identified -- that they had seen Woodland and his 14-year-old friend playing with BB-guns around the park earlier in the day. The park is half a block from where Woodland was shot.

Contributing: Staff Reporters Lisa Donovan, Kendrick Marshall and Steve Patterson

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The BB-gun

Police say the Daisy PowerLine Model 93 CO2 pistol looks like a 9mm Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol.

Daisy offers a drop-in clip "that delivers 15 rounds in seconds," says the Web site for the Daisy Airgun Museum in Rogers, Ark.

The pistol "looks and feels like a true semiautomatic," the Web site says. The pistol, which weighs about 1.1 pounds and is almost 8 inches long, can fire a maximum of 235 yards and retails for about $48.95, according to the Web site for Daisy Outdoor Products. A Daisy spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment.

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