Chicago prosecutors have declined to file charges against Officer George Hernandez, a local police officer who fatally shot 25-year-old Ronald Johnson in the back last year.
Cook County, Illinois state’s attorney Anita Alvarez made the announcement today at a press conference, saying that based on the evidence, the officer could not be found culpable for his actions.
“Based upon an objective review of the evidence and the law, we have determined that the prosecution could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of Officer Hernandez were no reasonable and permissible under the laws of the state of Illinois,” she said.
Ronald was fatally shot in October 2014 shortly after leaving a memorial service for a friend. The car that he was riding in was hit by a bullet, prompting the group of men inside the car to call police.
According to police reports, after police arrived on the scene, officers saw Johnson holding what they thought was a gun. As they ordered him to drop it, Johnson allegedly took off running. Hernandez began pursuing him, eventually opening fire and striking Johnson one in the back of the shoulder and again in the back of the leg.
Hernandez claims that Johnson had discharged his weapon first, but the victim’s family says that he was unarmed (they believe an officer planted a gun on Johnson). Dash cam video of the shooting was released today, but Johnson wasn’t in the camera’s frame at the time of the shooting.
Alvarez’s announcement came moments after Loretta Lynch announced that the Department of Justice would be conducting a civil rights probe into the city’s police department. She said that investigators would look at law enforcement officials’ use of deadly force and the department’s handling of citizen complaints. The DOJ’s findings will be released via a report in the coming months.