Another week, another police shooting video. And an officer linked to that shooting, was the shooter himself in still another incident.
The shooting of 25-year-old Ronald Johnson by police officer George Hernandez, was ruled justified by State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. But NBC5 Investigates has learned that Hernandez’ partner that night, Robert Gonzalez, has himself been present at two other shootings. And in one of those, he fired the fatal shot.
“This may be the only set of partners in Chicago, who have both killed a young man within a span of 12 or 15 months,” says Chicago attorney Victor Henderson.
Officer Gonzalez is named in three different civil lawsuits stemming from three different shootings: the October 2012 shooting of 16 year old Rickey Childs; the October 2014 shooting of Johnson; and, in the summer of 2013, the shooting of 17 year old Christian Green, where the lawsuit states that Gonzalez fired the fatal shot.
“It’s two years later, and I still don’t have justice for my son,” says Green’s mother Patricia. “He didn’t have a felony. He’s never been to jail. No record. And they ran my baby down, and they shot him in the back.”
The official account of the shooting from the Independent Police Review Authority, states that Green was standing near the Carter School on south Michigan Avenue, July 4 of 2013. As police approached, the report says, Green began running. At one point, officers said he attempted to dispose of a weapon, but picked it up again, and after running into a vacant lot, turned and pointed the weapon toward the officers.
The report says Gonzalez fired 11 times. Paramedics are quoted as saying that Green suffered a single gunshot wound to the chest.
But that version of events is contradicted by the official report of the Cook County Medical Examiner, who found that Green was shot in the back. Nevertheless, the Independent Police Review Authority ruled the shooting was justified, stating that the officer had fired “to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself, or his partner.”
“Clearly if he has a gun that’s cause for concern,” says Henderson. “But that’s really not the issue. The issue, is whether or not he had a gun and pointed at the officer, and whether the officer was in fear for his life, when he was shot.”
Three different lawsuits are pending against Gonzalez, including the suit filed by Patricia Green in connection with the death of her son. In their official response to that suit, the city maintained the officers were properly enforcing the law.
“If a young man points a gun at a police officer, then of course the police officer should shoot the young man to save his life and the lives of others,” Henderson said. “But that does not extend to shooting people in the back.”
Could the young man have raised his gun, then somehow turned during the flurry of 11 shots, allowing both versions of the narrative to be true? The case is the subject of a lawsuit, in Cook County Court.