Overview of Courtney Copeland
Who murdered Courtney Copeland? By all accounts, he approached Chicago Police seeking help after being shot in March of 2016 and collapsed on the scene, but a nurse at the hospital he was taken to reported Courtney was wearing handcuffs when he arrived.
Was Courtney the victim of a random carjacking or a police shooting and subsequent cover-up? More than 5 years later his mother is still seeking answers.
Courtney Copeland was a 22-year-old Cicero, Illinois, native and employee of the WorldVentures travel agency when he was fatally shot in the early morning of March 4, 2016. Prior to his death, Courtney graduated from Jones College Prep High School in Chicago, where he also played basketball.
According to his mother, Shapearl Wells, Courtney was working his way up at the travel agency in an effort to gain financial freedom and provide for his family, which included his mother, stepfather, and three younger sisters. Courtney’s friends and family described him as a good person with no enemies—someone who always brought out the best in others. His mother was quoted as saying about Courtney, “He loved life, loved to travel. Loved to have fun. He loved everybody.”
The day Courtney was murdered
Courtney spent the late-night hours between March 3 and March 4, 2016, the way he had spent many evenings. He met up with some friends at a regular gathering spot called Paisans Pizzeria in Cicero around 12:45 am. At approximately 1:00 am, Courtney left to drive to his girlfriend’s house in his recently acquired burgundy BMW.
Sometime before 1:15 am, Courtney called his girlfriend and said he was waiting outside her house, but when she went out to meet him, she didn’t see Courtney anywhere. Around 1:15 am, Courtney approached officers outside the police station near Grand and Central avenues, telling them he had been shot and needed help. Then he collapsed.
Police called paramedics, who rushed Courtney to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center with a gunshot wound to his back. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 2:01 am.
Courtney’s final hours
While Courtney’s death initially seemed like it might be a straightforward case of a possible carjacking gone wrong, years of investigation—mostly on the part of Courtney’s mother, Shapearl—have surfaced some bewildering facts that point in a more perplexing (and possibly more sinister) direction:
- Witnesses reported hearing two gunshots, but there was only one bullet recovered (the one that lodged in Courtney’s body when he was shot)
- Law enforcement’s working theory was that Courtney was shot through the driver’s side window while he sat in his car, but a full inspection of the vehicle showed no trace of blood in the car
- An ER nurse reported that Courtney was wearing handcuffs when he arrived at the hospital, which means someone likely placed them on him after he was already wounded and pleading for help
Who really shot Courtney Copeland—and why?
Where the case stands today
Courtney’s case is still unsolved, now classified as cold by police, and no suspect has ever been arrested and charged with his murder. His family continues to seek answers and pursue justice for Courtney, led by Shapearl’s investigative podcast Somebody.
In addition to continuing the fight to solve Courtney’s case, Shapearl hopes her work will bring positive change to counteract the disproportionate violence against Black people in Chicago and across the country. Anyone with information about the murder of Courtney Copeland should contact the Courtney Copeland Memorial Foundation.