A year after backlash from the family and supporters of Ronald Johnson III, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced dash cam footage of the Chicago man’s fatal encounter with police in 2014 will be released next week.
Johnson, 25, was fatally shot by Officer George Hernandez eight days before the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The Chicago Tribune reports:
On the night he was killed, Johnson was in a car with friends when the vehicle’s back window was shot out by an unidentified gunman. Chicago police have said that Johnson, a known gang member, resisted arrest when officers responded to the call of shots fired and then ran.
During the chase, Hernandez, at the time a tactical officer in the Wentworth Police District, pulled up in an unmarked squad car and jumped out with his gun drawn, Oppenheimer said. The video, which Oppenheimer said he has seen many times, shows that within two seconds of getting out of his car, Hernandez fired five times at Johnson as he was still running away, striking him in the back of the knee and again in the back of the shoulder.
Autopsy results obtained by the Tribune show the fatal shot traveled through Johnson’s shoulder, severed his jugular vein and exited his eye socket.
Several outlets reported that Johnson turned around to shoot at Hernandez, but attorney Michael Oppenheimer, a lawyer representing Johnson’s mother Dorothy Holmes, said no gun could be seen in the video.
After the shooting, police said they found a gun at the scene.
During a news conference on Thursday, Emanuel confirmed video of the incident would be released next week. Emanuel said the footage was withheld from the public because it is an open investigation.
Oppenheimer spoke about McDonald and Johnson’s shootings, asking people not to compare them.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
“This is not a Hollywood production. It’s not whether one movie is better than Batman Part II,” he said. “This is the brutal execution of two young African-American men who did not deserve to be shot.”
“It is a small step in terms of justice for Dorothy Holmes and her family and her son, but there is a long way to go,” Oppenheimer said. “The lies from the police department still persist.”
The family’s wrongful-death suit was filed just a few weeks after the shooting. The Chicago Tribune reports U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang allowed a request by the city for a protective order to be placed on the video.
Holmes’ attorney filed a separate suit for the video’s release under the Freedom of Information Act.
The ongoing criticism of Chicago’s handling of fatal shootings led to changes in the department. Emanuel announced the firing of Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy after the release of the McDonald video last week. Critics have also called for Emanuel and State Attorney Anita Alvarez to step down.
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