Speaking publicly for the first time, the Chicago Police Officer who shot and killed a 17 year old south side youth in 2013 testified Friday that he found himself in a quickly unfolding situation, where all he could see was the barrel of a gun.
Officer Robert Gonzalez faces a civil lawsuit in connection with the July 2013 death of 17 year old Christian Green. Gonzalez fired at Green 11 times, hitting him once in the back, after he said the youth pointed a gun at him in a vacant lot near 57th and State.
“It was a high stress situation,” Gonzalez said on the witness stand in a Daley Center courtroom. “I had a gun pointed at me. I tried to be as accurate as I could.”
Previous testimony from other officers at the scene alleged that Green fled officers, leading them on a 3 block foot chase which ended with his shooting. Officers Douglas Nichols and George Hernandez said they both saw the teenager turn and point the gun back at officers as he ran. Gonzalez said events were unfolding so quickly, he fired without even getting out of his unmarked squad car.
“All I saw was the opening of the barrel pointed at me,” he said. “I fired very quickly, and then I saw him struck, and then I stopped.”
Officers had previously demonstrated how Green turned as he ran, pointing the gun with his right hand. But Victor Henderson, who represents the teen’s mother, questioned how he could have sustained a bullet wound to the left side of his back, if he was turned to the right in the manner the officers described. Gonzalez said he couldn’t explain that, repeating that he was focused on the gun itself, not the position Green was in.
Henderson has repeatedly emphasized that Green’s gun was found 75 feet from his body, suggesting he did not have a weapon in his hand when he was hit by the fatal shot.
Testimony in the case continues on Monday.