‘I want to know why this happened’: Family of teen fatally shot by Chicago cop files lawsuit

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CHICAGO — The family of a teen who was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer February has filed a federal lawsuit.

Michael Elam was supposed to graduate from West Town High School on Friday. Instead, his family is still fighting for answers after he was gunned down by police.

Elam’s mother, Alice Martin, relived the night on Thursday during a press conference.

“With my son, I wasn’t there. But just witnesses, I was told that he didn’t stand a chance,” Martin said. There was no warning. There was no, ‘Halt, stop, don’t run.’ The officer just fired.”

Police said that on Feb. 16, they tried to pull over a silver sedan in Lawndale but the car drove off, then crashed on Keeler Avenue near 21st Place.

“Everybody bailed out of the car and tried to run, and instantly, within seconds, Officer [Adolf] Bolanos discharges his weapon,” the family’s attorney, Jeff Neslund, said.

Elam, who was a passenger in the car, was shot three times — twice in the back and once in the head.

Police said the 17-year-old was armed and shared pictures of at least one gun they found at the scene.

However, Neslund said that gun was found nowhere near the teen’s body.

“We have done an extensive investigation talking to everyone who was in the car and witnesses from the neighborhood, who actually saw the shooting, no one said Michael was ever in possession of a gun,” he said.

The lawsuit said Bolanos never turned on his body camera, so there is no footage of when he fired his gun.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating the shooting.

“We haven’t heard an explanation certainly not Officer Balonos’ explanation, which is part of the reason why we’re filling this lawsuit — to get answers,” Neslund said.

“I want to know why this happened,” Martin said. “I want justice for my son because he didn’t deserve that.”

The Chicago Police Department said Bolanos served his 30-day administrative leave and is back on the streets.
COPA has not yet recommended that they let him go.


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