No Charges for Chicago Officer in 2014 Shooting of Ronald Johnson

7 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chicago police probe announced; no charges in 2nd shooting.

Video released as Illinois prosecutors announced they won’t charge a Chicago police officer who shot an allegedly gun-wielding suspect in the back does not include audio as it should. CHICAGO — The Justice Department will begin a far-ranging investigation into the patterns and practices of the Chicago Police Department, part of the continuing fallout over a video released last month showing the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Monday. The probe comes less than week after the Chicago mayor fired the city’s police chief amid outrage over the recent release of a video from 2014 that showed a white police officer fatally shoot a black teenager. Largely based on what’s seen in the video, prosecutors said Monday they’re not charging Officer George Hernandez in the death of Ronald Johnson III last year. Pulaski, uniformed officers confronted the armed offender who refused to comply with orders to drop the knife and continued to approach the officers,” said the statement, from Oct. 21, 2014. “As a result of this action, the officer discharged his weapon striking the offender.” On the night of the shooting, a police union spokesman, Pat Camden, went further, announcing at the scene that Mr.

The investigation, which is separate from an existing federal investigation into last year’s shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, also will review how the department disciplines officers and handles misconduct accusations. McDonald’s and other high-profile police killings drove hundreds of protesters to block Chicago’s retail district on Black Friday, the U.S.’s post-Thanksgiving sales event. Justice Department officials say they use such patterns-and-practices investigations to identify systemic failings in troubled police departments and to improve trust between police and the communities they serve. “This mistrust from members of the community makes it more difficult to gain help with investigations, to encourage victims and witnesses of crimes to speak up, and to fulfill the most basic responsibilities of public safety officials,” Lynch said. “And when suspicion and hostility is allowed to fester, it can erupt into unrest.” The civil rights probe follows recent ones in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, and comes as the police department and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are under intense scrutiny over their handling of the October 2014 death of McDonald.

Camden said, “He was coming at the officer.” For months in 2014 and 2015, as police shootings were drawing close scrutiny around the nation, that was all most Chicagoans knew about Mr. Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder Nov. 24, more than a year after the killing and just hours before the release of police dashboard camera footage showing the officer shooting the teenager. If the investigation uncovers unconstitutional practices, the DOJ will announce its findings and seek a court-enforceable agreement with the department to institute reforms. The attorney general declined to give any timeline of the investigation, including how long it may last or when officials first began looking into complaints. Alvarez and Assistant State’s Attorney Lynn McCarthy spent more than 30 minutes detailing evidence before showing the video, which similarly to the McDonald case has no dashcam audio; the state’s attorney’s office overlaid police radio communications.

McDonald seeming to try to jog or walk past officers, then veering at an angle away from them before being shot, again and again, even as he lay on the pavement. In a statement Monday, the mayor pledged the city’s full cooperation. “Our mutual goal is to create a stronger, better police department,” he said. The Chicago City Council signed off on a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family even before the family filed a lawsuit, and city officials fought in court for months to keep the video from being released publicly. The city’s early efforts to suppress its release coincided with Emanuel’s re-election campaign, when the mayor was seeking African-American votes in a tight race.

Officer Van Dyke, the only officer who opened fire, continues to fire at McDonald for about 14 seconds as he lies on the ground, according to prosecutors handing that case. Politicians, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, called for the federal civil rights investigation.

Emanuel, Kelley Quinn, said, “Any suggestion that politics played a role in this investigation is patently false.” Faced with growing criticism and demands for his resignation, Mr. The Obama administration, buffeted by nationwide unrest over police conduct, has opened about two dozen investigations into law enforcement agencies in Baltimore; Ferguson, Mo.; Los Angeles; and elsewhere. Emanuel will speak Monday afternoon on police accountability with interim Chicago Police Superintendent John Escalante and the new head of the Independent Police Review Authority, a city agency that investigates police cases. Lynch said she hoped that the investigation would not only examine whether practices in Chicago violated constitutional practices, but also deter abuses elsewhere.

Ando will be replaced by Sharon Fairley, general counsel and first deputy of the city’s Office of the Inspector General and a former assistant U.S. attorney. Lynch said. “The Department of Justice intends to do everything we can to foster those bonds and create safer and fairer communities across the country.” Already, outcry over the case appears to be forcing a change. The University of Chicago said last month that an analysis by its civil rights and police accountability clinic found of 56,000 complaints against Chicago police – but only a fraction led to disciplinary action. McDonald, who was 17, began after 9 p.m. on Oct. 20, 2014 when he was stopped by the police after a report of someone breaking into vehicles on the Southwest Side.

The video was also slowed down to show what McCarthy said was a gun in Johnson’s hand; prosecutors say a loaded weapon was found in his hand after he was killed. Workers at a nearby Burger King said the police arrived almost immediately after the shooting and began intensely studying a computer that handles the restaurant’s surveillance system. The official is not authorized to speak about the announcement and would only speak to Associated Press reporter Don Babwin on condition of anonymity. He had failed to get the 50 percent plus 1 vote that he needed to win re-election to a second term outright, and was forced into an April 7 runoff with Jesus G. Emanuel’s campaign was especially vulnerable among some black and Latino voters who had been upset by his administration’s closing of nearly 50 public schools as well as policing and crime. “If that video would have surfaced around that time, he would have lost the whole support of the black, African-American community in Chicago,” said William Calloway, an activist here.

Robbins said he believed that the issue unfolded when it did simply because he and his co-counsel were able to assemble their evidence at that point. “How much did politics play in on the city’s end?” Mr. From our standpoint it was happenstance.” After a meeting in mid-March, lawyers for the family and the city reached an agreement to pay the family $5 million. McDonald had been walking away from the police and was continuing to walk away from the police, and they contend that the videotape supports their version of events.” Requests from the media for the video came, one after the next. A freelance journalist, Brandon Smith, filed suit to see the video — an effort the city’s lawyers continued to fight until the Cook County judge ruled against them on Nov. 19.

He has since said a task force needs to decide whether to change a policy of keeping evidence private while investigations are going on. “That’s a hypothetical,” he told a crowd gathered to watch him interviewed on stage with Politico at the Willis Tower. “And that said, I faced the election, faced the voters.

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