Shortly after the US Department of Justice announced an investigation into the Chicago Police Department, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said on Monday that she would not file charges in the Chicago police shooting of 25-year-old Ronald Johnson.
Alvarez defended her decision by showing a dash cam video of the shooting, which shows an officer shooting and killing Johnson, who was allegedly holding a gun, as the 25-year-old runs away from the cops. It's hard to make out whether Johnson pointed the gun at police officers before he was shot, or even if Johnson is really holding a gun, as police have alleged.
Warning: Graphic footage of a police shooting:
According to Alvarez's retelling of the events, Johnson and three others left a party around 12:30 am on October 12, 2014. They were subsequently shot at by an unknown gunman, but no one was injured. Shortly after, police arrived at the scene, reportedly saw Johnson carrying a gun, and ordered him to stop and drop the weapon. When he fled, police shot him. An investigation from the Independent Police Review Authority found Johnson was carrying a loaded gun as he fled.
Alvarez's decision to not charge the police officers involved in the shooting has come under fire on social media, in large part due to mounting distrust toward the Chicago Police Department. The US Department of Justice, for one, announced on Monday that it will investigate the police department for a pattern and practice of excessive use of force. That announcement followed the release of video showing the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald and Alvarez's decision to file murder charges against the cop who shot and killed McDonald.
But Alvarez's announcement and the release of the video in both shootings took a long time — more than 13 months — and followed lengthy legal battles, fostering accusations that city and county officials engaged in a cover-up in both cases.
In that context, the environment is much more skeptical of police claims. The release of a grainy video that doesn't clearly prove what Chicago police officers claimed won't do much to address that underlying distrust. And depending on how some people view the grainy footage, it may even affirm their belief that Johnson was murdered — since he was seemingly shot from behind.