Relatives of Kajuan Raye went to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office Friday afternoon to formally identify the body of the 19-year-old, who was shot dead Wednesday by a Chicago Police officer.
The group then drove to join a vigil at the West Englewood intersection where the teen was killed. There, they recalled the life of a teen who loved to play basketball, and adored dogs — a portrait that stands in stark contrast to the portrayal of Raye in police accounts of his final moments.
Police said a CPD sergeant shot the teen Wednesday night. The sergeant had given chase, thinking Raye matched the description of a battery suspect. Police say Raye was shot after the teen twice appeared to point a gun at the pursuing officer. Police said no gun had been found at shooting scene as of Thursday, and declined to say Friday whether a search of the surrounding area was still ongoing. The Medical Examiner’s office on Friday said an autopsy showed Raye was killed by a gunshot in the back.
Raye’s cousin, Ahkeya White, said the family was concerned about media attention paid to Raye’s prior arrest for theft, and said the teen was not doing anything wrong before police attempted to stop him Wednesday.
“Everybody got a story. Everybody got something they don’t want to put on TV,” White said, tears streaming down her cheeks. “That moment … two nights ago, whatever he did, he wasn’t doing it then, when they shot him down. And that officer didn’t know him.”
About 80 people crowded onto the sidewalk, some holding candles as they took turns at a microphone attached to a balky loudspeaker, remembering Raye’s life and calling for justice.
In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday, attorney Jay Payne said he is representing the family, and planned to file a civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Monday against the CPD and the officer who shot Raye.
“We will not wait on the IPRA investigation, we will not wait for the police,” Payne said. “We will seek justice for this family.”
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Thursday that police were searching for the weapon. Payne said he was at the shooting scene Thursday and watched investigators “packing up.”
“They’re done searching and they didn’t find a gun, because the kid didn’t have a gun,” Payne said. “If they come out and say they found a gun, 48 hours after the fact, it doesn’t look good for them. It smacks of a coverup.”
Johnson also said it was not clear if the officers involved in the chase and shooting were wearing body cameras, though the department announced in September that body cameras would be issued to all patrol officers in six police districts, including the 7th District-Englewood, where Raye was shot. A spokeswoman for the Independent Police Review Authority, the city agency that investigates police misconduct, said Thursday that officers in the 7th District had not yet been outfitted with body cameras.
IPRA, the city agency which investigates police shootings and allegations of misconduct, is reviewing the shooting. The sergeant who shot Raye has been placed on desk duty while the investigation is pending.
Surveillance camera video from a church near the shooting scene shows Raye sprinting away from a police officer, who trails the teen by a a half-dozen yards. The footage does not capture the shooting.
White, Raye’s cousin, addressed the prospect of the planned lawsuit in her remarks.
“We all work. It ain’t about no money, we don’t need money. Whatever they give … it won’t bring him back,” White said. “We’re trying to move forward… we’re going to do it by the book.”
Raye’s death was one of three fatal shootings by Chicago police officers in the last seven days, and the second in Englewood. Darius Dishaun Jones was gunned down in the 2000 block of West 69th Street, where police officers on patrol saw Jones shooting at a 26-year-old man. Police said officers opened fire after Jones ignored “repeated” orders to drop his weapon. Jones was pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Hospital. The man he allegedly shot suffered a wound to the abdomen, and was in critical condition.
Early Friday, police said 37-year-old Cleotha Mitchell was shot by an officer in the 600 block of Central Park Avenue in Homan Square, after Mitchell had fatally shot 35-year-old Jeffrey Banks.
Raye’s mother, Karonisha Ramsey, said only a few sentences, thanking the crowd of mourners.
“And as for my baby, I guess, we gonna get justice,” she said.
In a phone interview several hours before the vigil, Ramsey said Raye had called her Wednesday not long before he was shot, and she said he was on his way to her Dolton home for Thanksgiving dinner, which Ramsey has always cooked up on the Wednesday before the official holiday.
Ramsey said Raye had only recently moved back to Chicago after she had sent him to live with his aunt and grandmother in Texas. The teen had been unmotivated and his grades were slipping at Thorton Fractional High School, Ramsey said, and she hoped a change of scene would help him.
“I just wanted to put him in a different environment,” Ramsey said. “He had perfect attendance (at Thorton), he just wasn’t doing the work.”
Raye moved back when he turned 18, and while he wasn’t in school, Ramsey said she insisted that he start working toward getting his General Equivalency Diploma, and Raye was trying to get a job at Dominos Pizza, where his sister works. Someday, the teen hoped to become a veterinarian.
“He just loved dogs, and he kept saying he wanted to be a veterinarian. All he watched was Animal Channel,” she said. “He was a happy person. He wasn’t ever a problem.”