Dash cam video and 911 calls from a police-involved shooting in Chicago were released today by Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez as she said her office won't press criminal charges against the officer who fired the fatal shots.
"No criminal charges should be filed because the crime cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," said Alvarez, whose office was asked to review the case.
But the decision didn't sit well with the family of Ronald Johnson, the man who was killed.
"This is a joke," family attorney Michael Oppenheimer said today of the decision. "It's the blind leading the blind."
Johnson, 25, was shot dead by officer George Hernandez in Chicago in October 2014, Alvarez said, noting the Independent Police Review Authority is continuing to investigate the shooting.
Johnson's family had filed a lawsuit seeking the release of the video of the shooting, according to the Chicago Tribune, which noted that initially, the city said in court filings that releasing video of the incident could jeopardize the officer's right to a fair trial if he was charged.
But today, Alvarez released the video, as well as 911 calls related to the incident and written analysis of the case.
The dash came video shows Johnson exiting the car and running away from officers. One officer is seen firing, with a number of muzzle flashes visible, but Johnson being hit is not visible because he is out of the frame. While Johnson was running away from officers, Alvarez noted, he was running towards two other officers on the other side of the park.
Hernandez discharged his weapon five times, the state's attorney's office said, and Johnson was struck twice.
The dash-cam video did not have audio.
A 9-mm handgun was recovered from Johnson, loaded with 12 rounds, the state's attorney's office said. The recovered weapon was linked to a prior shooting in Chicago, where no one had been arrested and no weapon had been recovered, the state's attorney's office added.
One 911 caller said black men were shooting. Another caller, who called after Johnson was shot, told the 911 dispatcher that this was the fourth time in the last 45 minutes he heard shooting.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement today, "A life was lost here, and that is a tragedy that can’t be taken lightly no matter the circumstances. That’s why independent investigations are so crucial in these cases."
Emanuel added, "Now, as our independent police review authority resumes its investigation to determine whether the shooting was consistent with CPD’s policy, we must also ask ourselves if the existing policies on the use of deadly force are the right ones and if the training we provide to officers to make split-second decisions in life or death situations is sufficient.”
The Chicago Police Department said officers had responded to a call of "shots fired" and found a man matching the description of their suspect. The offender fled, police said, and during the chase, "the offender pointed his weapon in the direction of the pursuing officers. As a result of this action, an officer discharged his weapon striking the offender,” according to the police's initial release. Police said a weapon was recovered.
But Oppenheimer claims Johnson did not have a gun and the police lied, telling ABC News last week he wants the officer involved in the shooting to be charged. Alvarez today refuted Oppenheimer’s claim that Johnson didn’t have a gun.
Oppenheimer told ABC News last week that the video "clearly shows that [Johnson] is running away from the police officer." Oppenheimer said Johnson was afraid and "running at full speed" with nothing in his hands.
In the video, said Oppenheimer, the officer "takes aim at his back and fires." Oppenheimer said there's no evidence Johnson ever fired a weapon.
Oppenheimer claimed that police planted the gun, saying it was "impossible" for Johnson to be found with a gun in his hand "due to the speed he was running," he said.
A federal civil rights lawsuit from the family is ongoing, according to Oppenheimer. He has also asked for a special prosecutor to be appointed to the case.