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Officer Didn't Shoot Attacker Because She Feared Backlash, Top Cop Says

By  Kelly Bauer and Ted Cox | October 6, 2016 11:55am | Updated on October 7, 2016 8:35am

 Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said the narrative about police needs to be changed.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said the narrative about police needs to be changed.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

CHICAGO — As her face was being smashed into the pavement by a suspect Wednesday, a Chicago Police officer thought about using her gun to stop the man. Instead she was knocked out. She had been too worried about what people would think if she had used her weapon, she said.

The attack happened Wednesday. Officers on patrol were responding to a car crash in Austin when a man who had been in the crash attacked them, police said. Three officers were injured, one of them seriously, and they were taken to area hospitals for treatment.

The officer who was seriously injured, a 43-year-old woman and 17-year veteran of the department, was still hospitalized Thursday morning, according to a Chicago Police news release.

Kelly Bauer reports details of the attack on the officer.

The man had punched her and "repeatedly smashed her face into the pavement" until she was knocked out, police said. She suffered head trauma and multiple cuts to her face and head.

Another officer used Mace and a stun gun on the man and eventually placed him into custody, police said.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, speaking at an awards ceremony for the Police and Fire departments, said the officer thought she was going to die and thought she should have shot the man, but she did not because she was worried about scrutiny, according to tweets from Fran Spielman, a reporter for the Sun-Times.

The incident highlights the need to "change the narrative," Johnson said, according to Spielman.

Dean Angelo, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the union has for months been telling people that officers are afraid of becoming the "next news story, the next YouTube video" through a police-involved shooting. What happened on Wednesday is proof of that, he said.

The police union is worried for officer safety, Angelo said, and officers who do use their weapon worry they might save their life but will lose their job.

"Sure we are [worried]," Angelo said. "Everyone should be because if [police] take no action than ... civilians in the city deal with the fallout. If they take action, then people complain that they're too aggressive. If they second-guess, then we can have a situation, God forbid, with a tragedy of the loss of an officer.

"This is the environment that the false narrative ... is leaving in its wake."

Charges against the suspect accused of injuring the officers are pending, police said. The man is a convicted felon, police said.

On Wednesday, the City Council moved to create a new agency to probe police shootings and misconduct, and after the meeting Mayor Rahm Emanuel said police are under tremendous pressure with violence spiking and chilly community relations.

“Our officers are going through big changes,” he said, urging Chicagoans to support the police department. He said when relationships between police and communities they serve thrive, people are safer.

"Tell them they’re doing a good job, or support them when they do," Emanuel said. "It's essential for their confidence and the sense of effort they’re going to make. They have to earn [praise] ... but earning it they also have to hear that support for their effort.”

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