State's Attorney Says No Charges Will be Filed After Investigation Into Another Fatal Police Shooting

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez on Monday said the officer involved in the fatal shooting of a young African American man in Chicago would not be charged in the case and dashcam video from the shooting was released. 

“It is our determination that no criminal charges should be brought against Officer Hernandez because the crime cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," she said.

The announcement came just one hour after U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced a federal investigation into the Chicago Police Department.

Ronald Johnson, 25, was shot by on-duty Chicago police officer George Hernandez in October 2014. Video footage showing the fatal shooting, which has been described as "disturbing," shows Johnson, who police say was armed with a gun, running away from police when he was shot five times. 

The video does not show Johnson being hit by the bullets, but does show him lying face down in the grass after the shooting. 

Police said in a statement after Johnson was killed that officers responded to a call of "shots fired" on the 5300 block of South King Dr. on Oct. 12, 2014. Officials said Johnson was in a vehicle with three other people when someone fired at their vehicle.

When police approached the vehicle, they saw Johnson armed with a gun and ordered him to drop the weapon.

Alvarez said when officers approached Johnson, he fled the scene on foot. During the pursuit, authorities said Johnson "pointed his weapon in the direction of the pursuing officers."

"As a result of this action, an officer discharged his weapon striking the offender," police said in a statement at the time. Johnson was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A weapon was recovered from the scene, police said in the statement.

Johnson's mother Dorothy Holmes believes the dashcam video of her son's death will clear his name.

"He didn't have a gun in his hand because I also have seen the video," Holmes said. "I looked at it twice."

The Johnson family's attorney, Michael Oppenheimer, said Johnson was riding in a car with friends when they were stopped by police. Johnson got out of the car and ran.

"As he was running, other police officers chased him," he said. "Nobody fired their weapons until George Hernandez pulled up in a car, got out and drew his weapon and fired five shots at the back of Ronald Johnson."

Oppenheimer says Hernandez pulled up in an unmarked police vehicle with his gun drawn. He added that within two seconds, Hernandez shot Johnson as he was running away.

"It is disturbing," he said. "It will be forever etched in my memory."

Hernandez said at the time that he felt threatened, city records show. He was placed on desk duty following the shooting, according to Oppenheimer.

"You can clearly see his hands in the video. He is running what I would term to be straight ahead," Oppenheimer said. "He never turns. He never points. And there is nothing in his hand."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement Monday that the Independent Police Review Authority will continue its investigation into the shooting to determine whether it "was consistent with CPD's policy. 

"A life was lost here, and that is a tragedy that can't be taken lightly no matter the circumstances," he said. 

He added that "we must also ask ourselves if the existing policies on the use of deadly force are the right ones and if the training we provide to officers to make split-second decisions in life or death situations is sufficient."

Johnson was killed just eight days before the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

"It is a step in the right direction," Oppenheimer said Thursday. 

Roughly two weeks ago, the city released dashcam showing a police officer fatally shooting McDonald 16 times last year. The McDonald shooting video has sparked several protests in the city and prompted calls for the mayor and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign.

Last week, Emanuel fired Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.

"I've seen the video. It's a very different set of circumstances," said Interim Police Supt. John Escalante. "I'm hoping there won't be any outrage. Protests are understandable."

Oppenheimer said the family has already viewed the dashcam video and noted there is no audio on it – even though the videos typically have sound. There was also no audio on the dashcam video from the fatal shooting of McDonald.

"It doesn't make sense that there is no audio," Oppenheimer said. 

Court records show that Johnson has four prior arrests. Two of the charges were dismissed and the others pled down to misdemeanors.

Johnson's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court.

"It's not going to bring him back," Holmes said. "It's not going to make me happy. I don't want it."

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