No charges for Chicago cop in Ronald Johnson shooting, say prosecutors releasing video
Anita Alvarez, Illinois’ attorney for Cook County, announced the decision not to charge Officer George Hernandez at a lengthy news conference on Monday, during which she played the video recording of the incident that happened in October 2014.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Johnson was in a car targeted in a shooting on 12 October 2014 and his death occurred when officers responding to reports of gunfire saw that he had a gun.
Officers ordered him to drop the weapon but he fled, encountering other police near South King Drive.
In a struggle, one officer ended up being knocked to the ground, Alvarez said.
When Johnson ran behind a police car, Officer Hernandez fired his gun five times, hitting Johnson twice.
Grainy footage of the incident, replayed in slow-motion during the press gathering, shows Johnson running behind the car and across the street.
Just after he leaves the frame, Hernandez is seen firing his gun.
After Johnson was shot, officers found he was in a possession of a loaded weapon which had been used during a shooting in 2013, prosecutors said.
However, Johnson’s family contend that the gun was planted.
Admitting the footage was not “Hollywood quality,” Alvarez said their investigation determined Hernandez’s actions were “reasonable and permissible.”
She said the fact Johnson was running towards a police vehicle while holding a handgun was taken into consideration.
The FBI decided not take part in the criminal investigation last year, after its agents had viewed the video of Johnson being shot twice, according to Alvarez.
“The totality of the evidence establishes the following: At the time of the shooting Mr. Johnson was armed with a handgun. Mr. Johnson had run from an area in which shots had recently been fired.
“Mr. Johnson resisted arrest and Mr. Johnson ran into a public park and towards an occupied police vehicle that was arriving on the scene in that park,” Alvarez said.
25-year-old Johnson was running away from Officer Hernandez when he was killed, but “could have easily turned around and quickly fired,” the State’s Attorney added.
Johnson’s death at the hands of police happened only eight days before a different officer shot and killed Laquan McDonald, a black teenager.
McDonald’s death has led to repeated protests that have attracted national attention, and the officer who shot him has been charged with murder.
Michael Oppenheimer, attorney for Ronald Johnson’s family, criticized the investigation as a “cover up”.
He questioned why no progress notes were taken of Officer Hernandez’s evidence by police, and suggested authorities had tailored testimony to match the available video.
“The only reports we have [of] Hernandez’s conversations with the detectives are from the detectives written sometime later… and they are written like a legal brief.
“...there’s no notes of his [Hernandez] conversation with anybody on the scene. Were they destroyed after they saw the video because they realized, oops, that doesn’t help us? Or were they just never written?”
Dorothy Holmes, Johnson’s mother, described her sadness at the decision on Monday.
“I’m very upset that she [Alvarez] did not convict this officer of murdering my son and I’m not going to stop until I get what I want for him – and that’s justice.
“For [Alvarez] to say that my son had an object in his hand, I tell it to her face, she’s a bold face liar, he had nothing in his hand.
“I hope one day she feels the pain that I feel.”