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Aaron Brandon, 17
Chicago, Illinois
August 29, 2017

Agencies: Chicago Police Department Illinois

Last updated: 8 months ago

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The teenager fatally shot by an off-duty Chicago cop in Hazel Crest on Tuesday following an alleged robbery attempt had lost three family members in a brutal slaying last year, his mother said.

Hazel Crest police alleged the off-duty officer shot the teen, identified by the medical examiner's office as 17-year-old Aaron Brandon, of Homewood, after he and another male tried to rob the officer at gunpoint just before 10 p.m. on Birchwood Drive.

Lakeisha Brandon, who identified herself as the victim's mother, said her son's father and two sisters were killed in Hazel Crest last year. In that case, Dionus Neely, 39, and his daughters Elle, 10, and Endia, 3, were fatally shot inside their Crescent Drive home on July 2, 2016, in what police believed at the time to be a targeted hit, reports show.

Aaron Brandon, a Homewood-Flossmoor High School senior, had turned to rapping after the incident as a means of working through his trauma, said a girl, who identified herself as his close friend.

"It didn't break him," she said. "It made him better as a person. It made him stronger."

Both the friend and Brandon's mother said they questioned the official police narrative of events that led to Aaron's death, and Lakeisha Brandon said she had retained a lawyer. She would not disclose the attorney's name or whether she intended to file a lawsuit at this point.

According to Hazel Crest police, the off-duty officer who shot Aaron Brandon had arranged through an online sales network to meet him and another male to buy a computer. When he arrived to execute the transaction, one of the individuals drew a gun, police said their initial investigation showed.

The two males held the officer at gunpoint and began removing items from his pockets, including his badge, but before they could take his gun, which was on his belt under his shirt, the officer was able to fire at both, police said.

 

One of the males, identified Thursday as Brandon, was hit multiple times and fell to the ground between two nearby houses, police said. The other male fled the scene.

Police said that when they arrived on scene, they found the officer with his hands in the air and his weapon on the hood of his car.

Brandon was found lying face down with a gun in his hand, a key fob for the officer's vehicle in his pocket and the officer's badge on the ground next to him, police said. Money was also strewn about the area, cops said. Paramedics attempted to revive Brandon at the scene but were unsuccessful, police said.

The medical examiner on Thursday ruled Brandon's death a homicide caused by multiple gunshot wounds.

"It doesn't sound like him," Brandon's close friend said about the police narrative of events that ended in his death. "I'm with him every day. It's not him."

The friend, who said she had known Brandon since sixth grade, described him as "a humorous person that everybody loved to be around."

It couldn't immediately be verified whether Brandon had a criminal record.

"He does what teenage boys do," she said. "He wasn't a bad person."

Brandon's friend said he had hoped to pursue a rap career, inspired by artists who reflected on their own personal challenges in their verses. If rapping didn't work out, she said, he was considering joining the Army after high school.

 

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