Heckling and gunfire as police investigate shooting: 'We’re just playing'
“Run, b----, run!” a young shirtless man shouted as officers sprinted down an alley to check out the gunfire. Then, with mock concern, he added: “Hey, there’s somebody dead in the alley!”
There was no one dead in the alley. Police suspected the shots were a prank by a group of young men who had been heckling them for about an hour at the scene of a shooting that wounded a 22-year-old man in the 7100 block of South Paulina Street about 12:50 a.m.
Standing in a line not far from the crime scene tape, they had been alternately threatening and teasing the officers.
“You a traitor! You a traitor! You bogus as hell!” one of them said early on, focusing on the only black officer nearby.
Some of the officers returned the taunts, telling them to get jobs and calling out to the block that the men were snitches. “You’ve been talking to me for a year, don’t play in front of your boys!” a sergeant teased.
One officer grabbed his phone and held it out to face the crowd. “Hey, say it again,” he said. “This is going on YouTube.”
They answered him with a chorus of “F--- the police!”
One young man darted under the rows of police tape that blocked off the intersection. An officer followed him onto 72nd Street with a Taser in hand. Several others followed. They caught him and held him against the wall of a brick house at the corner.
“What you think the tape is for?” an officer asked him.
They cuffed him and put him in the back of a police car to cool down.
His friends crowded the tape. “What’s the charge?”
They again focused on the lone black officer. “Black lives matter,” one of young men said. “You a b----.”
Police later released the young man. The young men wandered around, backing away from the tape and then forward again, seeming to egg each other on.
“I’m finna beat your ass,” the shirtless man told one of the officers. More police approached, Tasers drawn. The red sights of the Tasers showed on the man’s bare chest.
“Tase me! I’ll embarrass your ass!” he said. “Tase me! I’ll sue your ass!”
Things cooled off for a moment, then the taunting continued:
“Get the f--- off my block!”
“Put y’all little-ass guns back in the holster.”
“Your momma a b----!”
The shirtless man smiled. “Y’all taking this seriously. We’re just playing.”
The shots were fired shortly afterward. Police said they were probably just a prank, an attempt to get officers to leave the corner or to mess with their heads. No one was reported injured. Many of the young men, who had left the scene before the gunfire, wandered back.
The shirtless man tested the tape and dared the officers again to use their Tasers. Red dots again appeared on his chest, and he put his hands up.
The group continued to yell taunts:
“I’m gonna slap the glasses off your ass.”
“You’re African-American, boy. You act like you’re white. You must not know you black.”
“I’ll assault a P.O. F--- a P.O.”
One young man dropped a pink cupcake across the police tape. “Eat it,” he dared the officers. He got on the ground, reached across the tape and picked it back up.
He stood up and dropped it across the tape again. “Eat it,” he demanded.
Slowly, the young men began to scatter and walk away from the police tape. A stray cat wandered into the crime scene and began to eat the cupcake.