Who Was Ronald Johnson III? The Chicago Shooting Victim's Case Has Striking Similarities To Laquan McDonald's
The dust had yet to settle on the case of Laquan McDonald's shooting when the city of Chicago released a new dashcam video, showing a second individual being shot and killed by its police department. Also occurring in October 2014, just a week prior, the circumstances surrounding this shooting are eerily similar to those around McDonald's. The new video purportedly shows a Chicago officer shooting a black male in the back and killing him, and like in McDonald's case, the decision to shoot is being questioned. But who was Ronald Johnson III? According to his family, Johnson was yet another African-American victim of police brutality who did not deserve to die.
Last Thursday, following the release of the footage of McDonald's shooting, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he would release video of Johnson's shooting this week, amid mounting pressure. He made good on that promise Monday, releasing the video, which shows 25-year-old Johnson running away from police when one officer opens fire five times, hitting and killing him out of view of the camera. Police have claimed that Johnson had drawn a gun, while his mother said there was no weapon.
Though the details of this case strike an undeniable similarity to those in McDonald's, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez announced on Monday that after conducting a criminal investigation, George Hernandez, the officer involved in Johnson's shooting, will not be charged.
Michael Oppenheimer, an attorney representing Johnson's mother, Dorothy Holmes, has discouraged the public from comparing Johnson's case with McDonald's. He told reporters:
This is not a Hollywood production. It's not whether one movie is better than Batman Part II. This is the brutal execution of two young African-American men who did not deserve to be shot.
Just a few weeks after his shooting, Johnson's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department. The video was first submitted in relation to that case, but because the suit was still pending, U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang granted the city's request to keep the video from being released. Oppenheimer filed a separate suit and asked a Cook County judge to release the video under the Freedom of Information Act.
As the release of McDonald's video helped pave the way for the release of Johnson's video, the U.S. Justice Department also announced on Monday that it would be conducting a larger investigation on the Chicago Police Department, and whether it has "engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution or federal law." Among the issues that will be examined in the probe will be the department's "use of deadly force."