Brian Keller

Age: 30
Date of death:

Mother of man slain by cop sues
Officer planted gun on him, she alleges
August 03, 2006|By Michael Higgins, Tribune staff reporter

The mother of a Chicago man who was shot to death by an off-duty Chicago police officer filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the city, alleging that police planted a gun at the scene to make it appear her son was the aggressor.

Renee Abner sued on behalf of herself and the estate of her son, Brian Keller, of the 9500 block of South Peoria Street, who was killed on April 12 outside the apartment of a woman he was dating in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood.

“My concern is justice for my son,” said Abner, speaking at a news conference Wednesday at the Daley Center. “I’m sorely disappointed in the Chicago Police Department…. It has been quite devastating for me and my entire family.”

Police Officer Corey Walker, who shot Keller, was seeing the same woman as Keller, police officials have said.

Police officials ruled the shooting justified in April after concluding that Keller had pointed a semi-automatic handgun at the officer.

Law Department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle reiterated that finding on Wednesday, saying, “The Police Department did investigate this incident, and they deny planting any evidence or intimidating any witnesses.”

The lawsuit seeks more than $10 million in damages from the city and Walker.
A next-door neighbor, Charles Cureton, said in April that he saw Keller point the gun at the officer, and that Keller refused orders to drop the gun. But Abner’s attorney, R. Eugene Pincham, disputed that account on Wednesday.

Pincham said Keller and Walker had a physical confrontation over the woman, and that Keller won the tussle. Pincham alleges that Walker then shot Keller and planted the gun on him.

Witnesses could confirm his version of events, Pincham said, but he would not identify them or say how many. He said police had intimidated witnesses from coming forward, including the woman who lived in the apartment.

Pincham said he hoped some of the witnesses would testify in court. “I’m going to make my case,” he said. “If I don’t, I’m going to die trying.”

The lawsuit alleges that Walker and other unidentified officers conspired to cover up the shooting and to “intimidate, terrify, frighten and threaten witnesses.”
Police officials on Wednesday referred questions to the city’s Law Department. Walker was unavailable, Law Department officials said.

Police officials said in April that neither of the men knew the woman was dating the other. They said they did not believe the shooting was the result of a love triangle.