A Chicago police officer who killed a fleeing man by shooting him in the back will not face criminal charges, Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez announced today.
The decision was announced more than a year after the October 2014 shooting death of 25-year-old Ronald Johnson; a year in which Chicago officials fought hard not to release the dash cam video of the incident.
Not much different than the way they did with the Lanquan McDonald dash cam video that led to first degree charges against Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke.
But unlike Van Dyke, Chicago police officer George Hernandez will not face charges.
Alvarez claims Johnson was pointing a gun at the officers when he was shot. The video does not show that but she attributes that to the inferior quality of the video.
According to the New York Times:
The police say they were answering a report of gunshots fired on the city’s South Side when they came upon Mr. Johnson on Oct. 12, 2014. The police have said he ran when they approached him, and then pointed a gun in the direction of the officers who were pursuing him before they shot him.
But a lawyer for Mr. Johnson’s family, Michael Oppenheimer, says Mr. Johnson was running away from the officers and never pointed a gun at anyone before being shot; Mr. Oppenheimer says he believes that a gun recovered at the scene was planted by the police.
Of the video’s expected release, Mr. Oppenheimer said last week that he was relieved that it would soon be made public, but he wondered aloud, “Who knows how many more of these there are out there?”
The city has said its longstanding policy has been to keep police dashboard-camera videos private as long as investigations into such shootings are ongoing. But a county judge last month ordered the city to release the McDonald video, and Mr. Emanuel has been under intense pressure to explain why the city waited 13 months after the shooting to reveal that video and what it will now do in other cases.
An autopsy showed that Mr. Johnson was hit by two bullets — one that entered the back section of his shoulder, then severed his jugular vein; the other struck the back of his leg.
The video is dark and grainy but there is no indication that he was pointing a gun at the cops as he dashed across the street.
But you can see the flash of the muzzle flash from the cop’s gun as he is chasing him.
Also, as we see a lot from Chicago, the dash cam video they first released contained no audio, which is expected from the police department that once had the honor of enforcing the nation’s toughest eavesdropping law, where citizens were not allowed to record cops in public without their consent.
That law was ruled unconstitutional after Alvarez put up a huge fight against the ACLU to keep alive, wasting thousands in tax dollars to keep it legal for cops to make unconstitutional arrests.
But notice what she said when asked about the missing audio in the press conference, which you can see in the second video below.
“That is frustrating because now we have seen cases we’re reviewing with these dash cams cases that there are no audio and that’s a problem for the Chicago Police Department and I think they need to answer to that.”
Well, shouldn’t she be the one asking the tough questions?
In theory, but she has failed at that, so now that job should go to United States Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, who has already launched an investigation into the Chicago Police Department.
Nevertheless, the video posted below does capture audio, so perhaps they were just waiting to release this version upon special request as they did with the McDonald video.
The shooting takes place shortly after the 1:35 mark.
Here is the autopsy.
UPDATE: A high-ranking Chicago police officer just announced his resignation after learning of the United States Department of Justice investigation into the department.
Constantine “Dean” Andrews was the chief of detectives. Also resigning was Scott Ando, head of the Independent Police Review Authority, which is probably not that independent.