Cop’s Lawyer: My ‘Poor Client’ Thought Teen’s Cellphone Was a Gun


Cop’s Lawyer: My ‘Poor Client’ Thought Teen’s Cellphone Was a Gun

Noah Ball, the Chicago cop who shot and grievously injured an unarmed 13-year-old Black boy with his hands up last month, mistook the teen’s cellphone

for a gun, according to an attorney representing the officer.

“Ball had no cover, he had no concealment—he had to make a split-second decision,” Timothy Grace told The Daily Beast in an interview on Tuesday night.

“Now my poor client is in a position that—now he has to live with this, where he had to shoot a 13-year-old,” he added.

But an attorney for the family of the teen—referred to only as “AG” in a federal lawsuit against the city and the officer, whose identity The Daily Beast is reporting for the first time—say they have reviewed video evidence, and that it tells a different story.

On May 18, the boy was pursued on foot by officers to a Marathon gas station on North Cicero Avenue in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. AG had fled from the passenger side of a car after cops stopped the vehicle, which was suspected of being involved in a carjacking the previous day.

According to surveillance video previously obtained by The Daily Beast, after racing into the parking lot and raising his hands, the boy turned to the right towards the pursuing officers. In a split second, he was gunned down.

That made him the latest teenager to be shot by the notoriously troubled police force behind a wide array of high-profile shootings of young men and boys of color in recent years. And while he survived the encounter, “AG” may never walk again, according to Andrew M. Stroth, a lawyer representing the teen and his family.

The video obtained by The Daily Beast—from a security camera aimed from across the parking lot—is the clearest view of the incident that has been released to the public. The video shows AG’s hands clearly raised, but it was not clear whether the boy held a cellphone in his hand.

An eyewitness previously told a local ABC affiliate that cops had told AG to put his hands up, and that he had followed instructions. “I got it all on my phone—his hands were up. He didn’t have a gun. They shot him for no reason,” they said.

For his part, weeks before shooting the unarmed teen, Officer Ball was lauded by the city’s largest police union for helping arrest an alleged murderer.

Grace, his attorney, suggested his client was in fear for his life when he opened fire.

“To say that [AG] put his hands in the air, I think, is a complete misrepresentation of the video,” Grace told the Daily Beast, referring to body-worn-camera footage yet to be released to the public.

Grace added that the officer was also yelling at the teen to “drop the gun.”

“And then the individual gets into the gas station lot, turns around, and points [what he believed to be a gun] in a shooting stance back at Noah Ball—that’s what happened,” the attorney claimed.

Grace also claimed the teen’s hands were not up, but did not contest the fact that there was no weapon found on the scene.

In the Tactical Response Report filled out by police on the day after the incident and obtained by The Daily Beast, Ball indicated he perceived the youth’s phone as a gun. But he also indicated the shot he fired was due to “subject armed with a weapon” and was in defense of both himself and his partner.

According to the City’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), the independent agency that investigates alleged police misconduct in Chicago, there was no weapon recovered at the scene. Police Superintendent David Brown confirmed a day after the incident that no one had fired at officers.

Stroth, the attorney for the boy, told The Daily Beast he had reviewed all video evidence, including body-worn camera footage and witness video, with the boy’s mother at COPA’s offices. He said they saw no sign of a cellphone in the teen’s hand, and wanted all video evidence to be released to the public.

Previously, the city had denied their requests, citing AG’s status as a minor, he said.

The Chicago police department, which earlier on Tuesday announced the final version of a new foot-pursuit policy for officers, declined to comment. The new policy—which bars cops from chasing people simply because they run away—may have been spurred in part by the fatal police shooting of another Chicago 13-year-old: Adam Toledo.

Stroth maintains that his own client will be absolved by video evidence, even if his life is never the same.

“The objective video evidence shows a kid pumping his arms back and forth with no weapon, unarmed, shot immediately,” he said.