The Chicago Police Department released dashcam video footage of the death of Ronald Johnson, who was shot and killed by Office George Hernadez last October. Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez announced that Hernandez would not face any charges as a result of Johnson's death, because the video appeared to show that Johnson was holding a weapon. What does the Ronald Johnson shooting video show? It's extremely blurry, and even an enhanced image of what police said is a weapon is difficult to make out.
As Alvarez played the video, she used a pointer to show who is running when. The video starts with a blurry person running around a street corner, whom Alvarez said is Johnson. She said that he was running toward one of the officers and away from the car which Hernandez and other officers were in. Johnson then runs across the street, away from all of the officers. You can see the flash of a weapon, which Alvarez said belonged to Hernandez. She said that Hernandez was the officer closest to Johnson. She also said that throughout the incident, officers had been yelling to Johnson to stop running, and had asked him repeatedly to drop his weapon.
She showed an enhanced image of whatever was in Johnson's hand. Even the cleared-up image is extremely blurry, but the object is clearly black. The shape can't be seen, but Alvarez said that analysts believe it was a gun.
Whether Johnson was actually carrying a weapon has been a major issue in the case. Chicago police claimed that Johnson was a known gang member, and that they found a gun at the scene of his death. But Johnson's mother, Dorothy Holmes, hired attorney Michael Oppenheimer, who argued that events were not so cut and dry. Oppenheimer argued that police planted a weapon after they shot Johnson, who was unarmed.
According to Alvarez, the state decided that it would not be bringing any criminal charges against Hernandez for Johnson's death. Oppenheimer, though, said that nothing was in Johnson's hands, "... not a gun, a cellphone, a bottle of water — nothing." He said that, within two seconds of getting out of the car, Hernandez fired at Johnson five times, even though Johnson was running away. On Thursday, Oppenheimer said its especially suspicious that the department — just like in the case of Laquan McDonald — didn't release the footage until more than a year after Johnson's death:
This could have been a lot easier if they released it 14 months ago. All of the lies, coverup, that’s still going on.
The blurry video doesn't provide many answers, and its release seems many months too late.