Cop Says He Shot a Black Man to Death Because There Was a “Gun” — Until This Video Proved He Was Lying


Rose Bouboushian | Courthouse News Service

CHICAGO (CN) – A white Chicago policeman shot an unarmed black man to death and then lied that his victim had a gun, but a surveillance video shows otherwise, his aunt claims in court.

Laquida Cockerham, administrator of her nephew Alfontish Cockerham’s estate, sued Chicago and police Officer Anthony Babicz on Feb. 17 in Cook County Court.

Alfontish, 23, was “walking along the sidewalk with several persons and was engaged in lawful activity” in the South Shore neighborhood around midnight on June 20, 2015 when several police officers arrived, according to the complaint.

Seeing the police leave their patrol cars, “decedent Cockerham walked briskly on the eastern sidewalk of South Merrill Avenue,” toward East 71st Street, his aunt says in the lawsuit.

While Babicz followed on foot, Cockerham “looked over his shoulder and then broke out running” as he turned onto the northern sidewalk of East 71st, the complaint states.

Babicz “at the same time broke out into a full sprint, pursuing decedent Cockerham,” who did not have a weapon, pose a threat, or commit any crime, his aunt says.

Her nephew then “reverse[d] course in a matter of seconds, running with great speed northbound by the eastern curb on South Merrill Avenue, away from East 71st Street.”

Babicz then “stopped running and adopted a shooting stance,” and shot repeatedly at Cockerham’s back. “At least three of the multiple gunshots fired by Babicz struck decedent Cockerham, causing [him] to fall onto the street in front of a parked car,” according to the complaint.

As Cockerham “lay on the street, writhing in pain, unarmed and hands raised up in the manner of surrendering, defendant Babicz either shot at him and/or placed him in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery by pointing a handgun at decedent Cockerham in a very threatening manner,” the complaint continues.

Babicz shot Cockerham in his left and right buttocks and right groin, causing a “massive loss of blood,” a severely low heart rate and “prolonged ‘pulseless electrical activity’ for an estimated 20 to 30 minutes, and [he] lost consciousness” as he lay in the street, his aunt claims.

Despite efforts to resuscitate Cockerham at Northwestern Memorial Hospital starting at 12:43 a.m., he remained “essentially comatose” for nearly six days, the complaint states.

Then-Deputy Police Chief Berscott Ruiz told the press that Cockerham had pointed at Babicz a .45 caliber handgun found at the scene; Cockerham was fingerprinted at the hospital while comatose, and charged with aggravated assault on an officer and another felony.

But the police story is “palpably false, contradicted by the physical evidence, the location of the shooting, the respective locations and points of entry of the gunshot wounds sustained by decedent Cockerham, security camera video footage , and civilian eyewitness accounts of the shooting,” his aunt says in the lawsuit.

A Pay Day Loan Store’s security camera directly over the eastern sidewalk of South Merrill Avenue, just north of East 71st Street, shows that Cockerham never pointed a gun at anyone, and backs up the plaintiff’s story, the complaint states.

“On June 25, 2015, with his next-of-kin at his bedside, decedent Cockerham suffered a cardiac death at approximately 22:57 hours,” according to the complaint.

Brown seeks damages for wrongful death and multiple counts of assaults and battery and wantonness

She is represented by Nnanenyem Uche and Morris Anyah in Chicago.

Published by Courthouse News Service.

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Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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  • Mack

    What was the object thrown on the ground?

    • Jason Smith

      Most likely a “drop gun.” Cops often carry a second gun on them (or so I have heard) so that they can plant them on suspects after they shoot them. This makes it look the other person had a gun and that the cop shot in self-defense.

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      • Jeff Mason

        you guys live in a dream world. Just because you have a few bad plumbers out there, does not mean all plumbers are bad. You have crooked, shady employees in every line of work…Police work is no different. You have the luxury of reviewing grainy video footage for hours, days and months when the officer only has a split second to decide what to do. Why arent we asking: why did he run, unprovoked? Why did he throw something down? The time the Hospital started medical attention was noted, but not the time the EMS crew arrived at the scene and began first aid, nor was it mentioned when the cop called for EMS to help the victim. An EMS crew will not transport a victim until they can stablize them…sometimes takes a little bit and then you have to factor in the distance to the nearest hospital equiped to handle the type of injury. Oh yeah, Jason…Cops dont carry “drop guns”, your retarded. Stay in your mom’s basement and play video games and let the grown ups have a discussion.

        • Hugh Culliton

          If the problem is just a few bad apples, that are in all professions, how do you account for the massive number of police shootings in the US versus the rest of the developed world? Surely they’d have problems too, yet they don’t. This is about failures in police training, personnel selection standards, doctrine, and ineffective supervision.
          These officers had a “split second to decide what to do” because that’s all they gave themselves. They didn’t think – just immediately went into chase mode with as much thought as a dog chasing a car. They exercised none of the due diligence and care that is required of LEOs, merely acted on the presumption of guilt – that everyone around them are criminals, and any actions civilians make are viewed through that lens. We aren’t asking “why did he run unprovoked?”, because running is not a crime – not wanting to voluntarily interact with, or walk near police officers is not a crime. We are not asking ‘Why did he throw something down” because, at worst, that’s littering. As well, while we do have the luxury of reviewing hours of grainy tape, that does not negate the fact that the police were at best acting on baseless assumptions without any probable cause, and at worst on prejudicial racial profiling. They had no idea who these people were, therefore they had no evidence to suspect a crime. Finally, even putting all that aside, there was NO reasonable grounds to justify they upholstering their weapons let alone shooting anyone – they were at no time under any threat. These people were running away from them – not attacking. American law enforcement has a serious credibility problem and they are responsible for it. In order to effectively and safely do their jobs, they need to earn back the trust of their communities. This cannot be done by blaming the communities, people police interact with, the media, or pretending that the problem doesn’t exist. It’s a hard job, but by failing to address the systemic issues facing law enforcement, they’re making it harder for themselves and more dangerous for their communities.