Suit: Cops responding to robbery shoot store owner 11 times
BY MICHAEL LANSU Staff Reporter March 13, 2013 9:56PM
Updated: March 15, 2013 6:28PM
An Austin store owner filed a lawsuit against the city this week claiming that Chicago Police officers mistakenly shot him nearly a dozen times after a robbery at his West Side store. The lawsuit seeks millions of dollars in damages.
Bassil Abdelal, owner of B&B Beauty Supply, 5155 W. Lake, claims two Chicago Police officers responding to an armed robbery at his store on March 14, 2012, mistook him for a robber and shot him 11 times after the robbers already had fled.
At the time, police said responding officers encountered the robbers during the crime and a shootout ensued.
Abdelal had closed his store and locked the front door when a man knocked on the door about 8:30 p.m. and said he wanted to make a purchase, according to a suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Abdelal unlocked the door and attempted to hand the apparent customer the merchandise without letting him inside, but the man ran away.
A short time later, three masked men, including the man who had knocked on the door earlier, stormed in through the unlocked door, the suit said. Two of the masked men had guns that they pointed at the heads of Abdelal and his father-in-law.
One of the men took Abdelal’s father-in-law to the back of the store and demanded he show him where the circuit breaker was so he could turn off the electronic surveillance, according to the suit.
The robbers demanded that Abdelal open the register and give them the cash, the suit said. Abdelal explained the register could not be opened because the power was cut. One of the men turned the electricity back on and Abdelal handed over the $160 in cash inside.
Abdelal told the upset robbers there was more money in a back washroom, but the robbers got scared after receiving a cellphone call that police were coming and ran away, the suit said. One of the robbers dropped his gun outside the store.
The suit claims Abdelal picked up the gun for protection and waited by the door until police arrived. He then threw down the gun, but police opened fire and shot him in the leg, according to the suit.
Abdelal was wounded, and he ran back inside screaming, “Don’t’ shoot I am the store owner,” the suit said. The officers shot Abdelal repeatedly and shot out the store windows and glass door, the lawsuit alleged.
Abdelal was shot 11 times, including in the hands, shoulder, legs and hips, according to the suit. The injuries required screws and metal rods to be placed in his legs.
The suit claims the officers never told Abdelal to put his hands up or lay on the ground. The officers then allegedly stopped Abdelal’s father-in-law from helping him.
While Abdelal was recovering at an area hospital, detectives visited him numerous times and even handcuffed him to his bed, the suit said.
Police said at the time that officers arrived at the store and found a robbery in progress, and the three suspects confronted them and pointed their weapons at the officers, who shot the men.
Police confirmed at the time that a person inside the store was wounded and two guns were recovered.
“Mr. Abdelal is both an innocent victim of armed robbery as well as gross police misconduct … The contention by the police that they arrived to gunfire is false. The police made no attempt to ascertain whether Mr. Abdelal was in fact an innocent victim before shooting him even though he identified himself as the storeowner,” said Abdelal’s lawyer, Justin London of London Law Offices.
“The police and City of Chicago need to be held accountable for the conduct that led to Mr. Abdelal’s severe and permanent injuries,” London said.
All three alleged robbers were charged shortly after the incident, authorities said.
Omar Young, 24, of the 300 block of North Lockwood, was charged with one count of armed robbery with a firearm; one count of aggravated assault of a police officer and a parole violation. Richie Cole, 20, was charged with one count of armed robbery with a firearm and a parole violation. Leevon Carter, 22, of the 100 block of North Lockwood, was charged with one count of armed robbery with a firearm, authorities said.
The 10-count suit claims the city followed its “code of silence” to protect and cover for two officers who shot the unarmed store owner. It further claims surveillance shows the robbers left the guns outside and none of the wounded was armed.
Abdelal claims, among other things, excessive force, false imprisonment, assault, battery and negligence. He is seeking more than $10 million for each count plus punitive damages determined at trial and attorneys fees.
A spokesman for the city’s Department of Law could not immediately comment on the lawsuit.