On the same day the Department of Justice announced an investigation of the Chicago Police Department, officials from Illinois' Cook County held a press conference regarding one of the city's most contested police-involved shootings. Illinois will not charge Detective George Hernandez with shooting Ronald Johnson, the New York Times reports. After the shooting took place in October 2014, Johnson's family challenged the police report that claimed Johnson had pointed a gun at officers, the Chicago Police Department's justification for Hernandez' decision to shoot Johnson. Romper reached out to the Chicago Police Department and the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7 for comment and did not immediately hear back.
As in the case of Laquan McDonald, the 17-year-old fatally shot by a Chicago police officer one week after Johnson was killed, the key to determining what actually happened that night was a video closely guarded by officials for more than a year. The Chicago Police Department was heavily criticized for taking over a year to release that video. The dash cam video of Ronald Johnson's death and the police encounter preceding it was shown at a news conference Monday, presented by Cook's County State Attorney Anita Alvarez and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn McCarthy. Both some reporters and Johnson's family say the footage does not offer a clear enough view of Johnson's hands to clarify whether Johnson was carrying a weapon. The video does show Johnson running from police. The shooting takes place offscreen, after Johnson has rounded a corner and disappeared from view.
Johnson's family has brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Hernandez as the officer who shot Johnson and alleges that there may have been an attempt by the Chicago police to cover up an unjustified shooting by placing a gun at the scene later. Despite questions about the clarity of the footage, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said her office determined from the video that Johnson was indeed carrying a weapon.
Though the video was released without sound, officials claim Johnson did not comply with officers' demands to stop running and drop his weapon. The Johnson family's attorney told the Washington Post that the release of the video won't affect their lawsuit, which is moving forward.
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