The Chicago officer who fatally shot a 25-year-old black man in the back last year will not be charged in his death, an Illinois state’s attorney said Monday.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced in a news conference that Officer George Hernandez would not face charges in the death of Ronald Johnson III, who was shot twice during a police chase on Oct. 12, 2014.
The attorney’s office released dash cam video of the incident, which shows Johnson running away from officers as Hernandez steps out of his vehicle and fires into his back. The state’s attorney’s office said Johnson was carrying a firearm and refused officers’ demands to drop the weapon.
The video shows Johnson with a gun in his hand at the time of the shooting, Alvarez said. In the video, several flashes can be seen from Hernandez’s gun as he fires toward Johnson. The state’s attorney’s office said Hernandez fired five times, with two shots hitting Johnson in the knee and shoulder. Authorities found that grass had lodged in portions of Johnson’s weapon, indicating that it was in Johnson’s hand as he fell.
“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.
Prior to the shooting, Johnson had been inside a car that had its back window shot out. When police arrived, Johnson resisted arrest and fled.
The release of the video follows murder charges in the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old who was shot 16 times by Chicago Officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. McDonald was armed with a knife but was not carrying a gun.
The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday announced it would investigate the Chicago Police Department over the handling of McDonald’s death.
In a statement, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he welcomed the DOJ’s investigation and pledged the “city’s complete cooperation.” Emanuel initially said he opposed a federal investigation into the police department’s practices.