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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

No Charges in Second Chicago Police Killing

CHICAGO (CN) - A Chicago police officer will not face charges for killing 25-year-old Ronald Johnson, Cook County's top prosecutor said Monday, amid high-profile resignations at the police department.

Officer George Hernandez shot and killed a 25-year-old black man, Ronald Johnson, in 2014.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, who has been under pressure to resign in the wake of the release of the Laquan McDonald video , said Monday that Hernandez will not be charged.

"Based upon an objective review of the evidence and the law, we have determined that the prosecution could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of Officer Hernandez were not reasonable and permissible under the laws of the state of Illinois," Alvarez said at a news conference.

A video of Johnson's shooting shows him running across a street into a park, chased by numerous officers with guns drawn.

Johnson is running away from the officers in the grainy dashboard camera video, and appears to be holding something in his hand.

Police claim the object was a Browning 9mm pistol, and that Hernandez reasonably feared Johnson could turn around and shoot.

Hernandez fired five shots at Johnson's back.

As with the McDonald video, there is no audio in the Johnson video. Police claim that "officers had been calling out to him to drop his weapon, stop, to freeze, and he did not comply with any of their commands," assistant state's attorney Lynn McCarthy said at the Monday news conference.

Michael Oppenheimer, an attorney for Johnson's family, disputes Alvarez's version. He says Johnson was unarmed, and that police planted a gun at the scene.

Alvarez spoke hours U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced a federal investigation into potential civil rights abuses by the Chicago Police Department.

It also coincided with several high-profile Chicago Police resignations and in its external review agency.

Scott Ando, head of Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority, resigned on Sunday, and Chief of Detectives Constantine "Dean" Andrews announced his retirement Monday.

Andrews has been under investigation for closing the homicide case against Richard J. "R.J." Vanecko, former Mayor Richard Daley Jr.'s nephew, who was accused of killing David Koschman with a single punch in 2004.

Koschman's mother accused the Police Department of falsifying police reports to support Vanecko's claim he acted in self-defense.

A Sun-Times investigation eventually led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, who confirmed that there was no evidence of any witness making statements quoted in the final police report supporting Vanecko's version of events.

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