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Witnesses dispute police account of fatal shooting

Updated: October 27, 2011 12:30AM

Two men were shot dead by police within nine hours this weekend in two separate incidents on the West and South sides.

Police say both men were pointing their guns at officers when they were killed — but two witnesses to the West Side shooting told the Independent Police Review Authority that they saw Lynell Hawkins, 32, throw his gun away before he was fatally shot.

Their statements — also made to the Sun-Times Sunday — contradict the Fraternal Order of Police account of why the officer pulled the trigger.

According to a Chicago Police statement, officers were flagged down by witnesses who heard gunshots near West Madison and South Parkside around 4:20 p.m. Saturday.

The officers spotted a vehicle that matched the witnesses’ description and saw Hawkins fleeing from the vehicle, the statement said. He then turned and fired at the officers as they chased on foot, the statement said.

FOP spokesman Pat Camden said the officers did not initially shoot back because a mother and child were present. One officer followed Hawkins up the rear stairs of a 12-unit apartment building and told the suspect to drop his gun, Camden said. When Hawkins refused, then, at the top of the third-floor stairwell, he pointed his weapon at the officer and the officer shot him, Camden said.

But two witnesses who said they were on a third-floor balcony 10 yards away say Hawkins threw his weapon away before the officer arrived.

“He threw the gun onto the roof next door but it slid off and fell three floors to the ground below,” one said.

“The cop arrived five seconds later, saw the gun on the floor, then ran up the stairs and shot the man,” added the witness, whose account matched that of the second witness.

Both gave their names to investigators but asked to remain anonymous.

The first witness said she did not come forward immediately because, “I wanted to see how the police played it.” She added, “Why did they have to twist the story?”

Neither of the witnesses — nor two others who the IPRA still wants to speak to — said they knew Hawkins, who lived four miles away in the 800 block of North Trumbull.

Hawkins’ relatives said he had a history of drug and gun convictions but they still want answers.

A gun was recovered from the scene, police said. Chalk circles on the ground 30 feet below the blood-stained staircase marked the spot where it was found, neighbors said.

Camden, whose account of the shooting was based on a preliminary report given by the officer to an FOP representative, said the conflicting claims illustrate “why there’s an investigation by the department and IPRA.”

In the second police-involved shooting — also being investigated by IPRA — officers fatally shot a man they say was using a female as a hostage in the Gresham neighborhood about 12:40 a.m. Sunday.

Tactical officers responding to a “man with a gun” call outside a social club in the 8000 block of South Ashland found a large crowd and Niko Husband, 19, holding the woman around the neck, using her as a shield, Camden said.

As officers attempted to pull the woman away from him, they saw Husband reaching for a gun in his waistband and fatally shot him, Camden said.

Husband’s family has hired a lawyer to conduct their own investigation.

Contributing: Sun-Times Media

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