On Monday, authorities released video footage of the fatal shooting involving Chicago Police Officer George Hernandez and black civilian Ronald Johnson back in October 2014. Additionally, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced that the state would not be bringing charges against the officer, because the footage showed that Johnson had been carrying a weapon and had resisted arrest before fleeing on foot to a nearby park. Given the concerning trend of black civilian shooting deaths at the hands of police officers over the past few years, however, one lingering question remained. Who is George Hernandez, and has he had violent run-ins with the community before?
According to Johnson's family and public police records, the 25-year-old allegedly left a party with three friends on the evening of Oct. 12, 2014, when someone opened fire on the vehicle they were driving, causing them to pull the car over and park. When they exited the vehicle, police officers nearby claimed that they noticed Johnson was carrying a gun. When Johnson turned to flee, he was met by an unnamed officer and a brief physical altercation ensued, according to authorities. After knocking the officer to the ground, Johnson fled to a nearby park, where Hernandez and two fellow police officers had just exited their police vehicle. Allegedly noticing Johnson's firearm, reportedly a 9mm pistol, Hernandez opened fire, shooting five times and striking Johnson twice. Johnson died at the scene.
Seventeen days after Johnson's death, his family filed a lawsuit against Hernandez and the Chicago Police, alleging that Hernandez was guilty of excessive force, wrongful death and battery, and conspiring with city detectives to falsify statements regarding the night's events. However, the media has yet to uncover any troubling history on Hernandez. So far, there's nothing which would indicate that he had had issues with the community leading up to the incident. Bustle has reached out to the Chicago Police Department for comment and is awaiting a response.
Little is known about Hernandez, as most reports have focused on the department itself. A statement put out by the department last Wednesday claimed that the lawsuit's allegations of inadequate training and widespread misconduct were false. The city also denied that Hernandez and his fellow officers had practiced a "code of silence" meant to protect one another from civilian charges.