Chicago Police Officer Released Without Charges in Relation to 2014 Shooting
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced the results of the investigation of the 2004 shooting, resulting in the death of a man. Chicago Police Officer, the defendant of the case, was not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be guilty, by which the police officer was released without being charged.
Criminal charges were not filed against Chicago Police Officer George Hernandez after being proved that the officer’s conduct during the shooting that occurred in October of 2014 was a reasonable use of deadly force under the Illinois constitution.
Ronald Johnson, 25, was at a party in an apartment near 53rd Street and King Drive in the early morning hours of October 12, 2014. Shortly after leaving the apartment with three of his acquaintances, driving west on 53rd street, and reaching Calumet Avenue, multiple gunshots were fired at the car. Several bullets hit the car, which broke the front windshield, the back window, and the passenger side door. The four individuals got off the vehicle and separated at around the 53rd and 54th street and decided not to alert the police to the shooting incident, afraid to be arrested for illegal gun possession.
Multiple citizens dialed 911 to report the shooting around the area of 53rd Street and King Drive. Along with the emergency calls from the residents, a Chicago Police Department Sergeant issued a flash message over the radio to address the incident. Several units responded to the scene who were tasked to look for three black males who were said to be wearing dark hoodies and were armed with guns.
Two other police officers had come across one of the acquaintances of the victim, which was asked for a police report regarding the shooting incident. Later on, Sergeant Michael Costello saw Johnson, who ran westbound and entered a vacant lot. The sergeant followed suit until Johnson managed to escape to 5312 King Drive, where he encountered the two other police officers who were initially taking down the aforementioned police report. The officers saw the gun on Johnson’s right hand and tried to arrest him; however, he managed to escape. Unluckily,
Johnson was again caught by three officers who all exited the car with their guns drawn and pointed at Johnson, ordering him to drop the weapon. Even then, Johnson did not surrender, and ran in a diagonal direction east across King Drive, towards Washington Park. At this point, a number of police officers are on Johnson’s tail.
Officer Hernandez managed to run after Johnson and repeatedly ordered him to drop his gun. Johnson ignored the command, to which Officer Hernandez responded by firing five shots. Johnson was hit by two bullets – one at the back of Johnson’s right knee, and another from the back of his right armpit and through his left eye. Officer Hernandez subsequently retrieved a 9mm semi-automatic handgun from Johnson’s right hand, which was loaded with 12 live rounds, and three Tula brand cartridges. Johnson was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center and was pronounced Dead on Arrival.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy, which revealed that Johnson’s cause of death was a result of multiple gunshot wounds and claimed that the manner of death was a homicide.
Further investigations based on evidence in the case showed that as the Chicago Police Officers responded to calls of shots fired in a high crime area, Johnson was found armed with a handgun, resisted arrest, and ran into a public park. Following a series of trying to escape from the authorities, Ronald Johnson was shot by Officer Hernandez twice.
Under the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Standard, charges should be brought only if there is sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the previously mentioned actions were considered unjustified. Thus, an objective view of the evidence and law demonstrates that Officer George Hernandez conduct was a reasonable use of deadly force under Illinois Law.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, led by the State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, announced the release of Officer George Hernandez, by which no criminal charges were filed in this matter.
Updated: August 18, 2020