On Monday afternoon, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced Officer George Hernandez will not be charged for shooting Ronald Johnson in the back as he fled. During a press conference about the fatal shooting, which happened in October 2014, Alvarez referenced a witness who claimed he saw and heard Johnson with a gun. That gun was used to justify the officer’s use of force.
But according to the witness’ deposition, he actually made everything up. According to attorney Michael Oppenheimer, who is working with Ronald Johnson’s mother, Dorothy Holmes, Witness A admitted that he did not hear a gun or see Johnson with one.
“I had no thought. Or the idea of a gun wasn’t really a thing until [the detectives] presented the idea to me, or the situation to me,” the witness reportedly testified said in the deposition. “By the time I had the conversation with the state’s attorney, I’d already conjured this notion, this story. The story that I told her was the story that we had, me and the detectives, logically [come] to because of the situation and what they presented to me. Everything was already defined and clear to me, spoken to me by the detectives, at that point. So when I went in to have that conversation…there was a clear line of events and things that were already going to be in the story.”
“It was a lie that I thought it was a gun,” he responded, when asked if he lied about the gun. “I made up hearing — I made up the gun. The detectives let me know that the situation was a situation in which they knew where they were going to go. My testimony was to say, to give, testimony…to that.”
The witness also said that he did not see a bullet in the vehicle he was riding in with Johnson, before the shooting occurred. And during a second press conference on Monday, Oppenheimer revealed that Witness A was the only civilian who testified during the investigation.
“This is a cover-up from the beginning,” Oppenheimer said.
Alvarez declined to press charges against Hernandez on the grounds that Johnson was holding a gun at the time he was killed. The official police account of the shooting stated that Johnson was pointing a gun at police when Hernandez fired his weapon. But dash camera footage released on Monday proved that narrative false, as Johnson is actually running away from police at the scene.
Police similarly lied about the Laquan McDonald shooting. Pat Camden, a spokesman for the city’s Fraternal Order of Police claimed McDonald lunged at police before Officer Jason Van Dyke fired his weapon 16 times. But the 17-year-old was actually walking away from officers when he was gunned down.