Chicago to Release Video of Second Police Shooting: 'First Step for Justice' Says Family Attorney

Ronald Johnson, 25, was shot dead by police in October 2014.

December 4, 2015, 6:00 PM
PHOTO: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel prepares to speak to the media on Dec. 3, 2015, in Chicago.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel prepares to speak to the media on Dec. 3, 2015, in Chicago. Faced with growing calls for federal intervention after a white officer fatally shot a black teen, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday the city would welcome a Justice Department investigation of ?systemic issues? in the Chicago police department.
M. Spencer Green/AP Photo

— -- One week after a video was released in Chicago showing a deadly police-involved shooting, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city will end its opposition to releasing dashboard video of another young man who also appeared to have been shot dead by police.

Ronald Johnson, 25, was allegedly shot dead by officer George Hernandez in Chicago in October 2014, the Chicago Tribune reported.

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 family attorney Michael Oppenheimer claims Johnson did not have a gun and the police lied, telling ABC News today he wants the officer involved in the shooting to be charged.

The Cook County State's Attorney's office is investigating possible criminal charges, according to the AP. The State's Attorney's office told ABC News today "the incident is the subject of an ongoing investigation" and no further comments would be provided.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Johnson’s family had filed a lawsuit seeking the release of the video. 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, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Then, this Thursday, at an unrelated press conference, Emanuel was asked about the video and he said, "Yeah, we will do that next week," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Johnson's family has been pushing for the release of the video for 14 months, Oppenheimer tells ABC News, calling Emanuel's decision "the first step for justice."

Oppenheimer says he hasn't been told by the mayor's office when the video will be released.

"I'm happy he [the mayor] is doing it," Oppenheimer said today. "I still don't know when."

Oppenheimer has seen the dash cam video, he told ABC News. He described the video as dark and grainy, but said it "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 hand.

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 claims 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 says.

A federal civil rights lawsuit from the family is ongoing, according to Oppenheimer. He is also asking for a special prosecutor to be appointed to the case.

"We want change at the state's attorney's office so cover-ups don't happen," Oppenheimer says. "Most police officers are good and we need them, but they need to handle the ones that are not."

Emanuel's decision to release this video comes one week after the city released another police shooting video that showed the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The graphic footage of McDonald's shooting was made public for the first time last week after a court order, and Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy was forced to resign Tuesday in the wake of the video's release. Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has also come under fire over the McDonald case, and politicians and activists, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, are asking for her resignation.

Oppenheimer says the release of McDonald's video has a "great impact" on his case, and he hopes now "the cover-ups may slowly start to end."

A representative for Emanuel did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment today regarding the Johnson video. On Tuesday, the mayor created a task force that will review the police department's system of accountability, oversight and training. The task force, according to the mayor's office, will then "recommend reforms to the current system to improve independent oversight of police misconduct, ensure officers with repeated complaints are identified and evaluated appropriately, and establish best practice for release of videos of police-involved incidents."

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