No charges for police officer who shot Illinois teen twice in the back

By Marcus Day
May 18, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Prosecutors announced Thursday that they would not bring criminal charges against the Zion, Illinois police officer who shot 17-year-old Justus Howell twice in the back April 4, killing him.

A surveillance video released by state prosecutors last week shows the end of the chase, as Howell is shot from behind and falls to the ground. The video is taken from across the street and does not appear to show him either beginning to turn toward the pursuing officer or holding a gun.

LaToya Howell, Justus’ mother, told reporters outside the courthouse Thursday, “I have seen that video. There is nothing that suggests they should execute my son. His back was turned. He was no threat.”

State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim claimed that an investigation by the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force—carried out under the supervision of the FBI—had determined that the use of deadly force by the police officer was justified.

There is every reason to believe—as in so many other instances of police violence against workers and youth—that the investigation was aimed solely at carrying out a whitewash and cover-up.

Howell’s killer, Officer Eric Hill, had previously been reported for having tasered a woman eight times in the course of responding to a domestic dispute.

Hill has remained on paid leave during the course of the investigation, but is expected to return to active duty soon.

The announcement that Hill would walk free came just two days after a Madison, Wisconsin district attorney announced that he would not bring charges against the police officer who killed Tony Robinson, an unarmed teenager, in March.

Police claim that Howell met with Tramond Peet, 18, in Zion, a small city 45 miles north of Chicago, in order to buy a handgun for $600. The gun was allegedly stolen from a home in nearby Lake Villa several days before their meeting. Peet was later arrested and has been charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

Authorities claim that Howell attempted to wrest the gun away from Peet without paying for it, in the course of which the gun was dropped and fired. A witness who heard the gunshot phoned the police, who arrived at the scene and saw Howell flee. During a brief foot chase, police claim that Howell began to turn around toward Hill while holding the gun. Hill fired twice at him in quick succession: one bullet struck Howell in the shoulder, while the other pierced his heart, spleen and liver.

A coroner for Lake County, after performing an autopsy of Howell, ruled the death a homicide. Although preliminary tests did not find any gunshot residue on his hands, the Illinois State Police Crime Lab claimed Thursday that some had been found.

State’s Attorney Nerheim claimed that the autopsy showed that the trajectory of the bullets that entered Howell demonstrated that he was bent over and turning as he was hit. What is just as likely, however, is that he stumbled or twisted as he ran.

Prosecutors have also claimed that a gun was recovered from within a foot of Howell’s head, and that a forensic examination had found his thumbprint and DNA on the weapon. However, at least two witnesses have disputed claims by police that Howell was armed when he was shot, or that a weapon was recovered at the scene.

Bobbie Vaughn, who lives near the site of the shooting, told the Chicago Sun-Times in April that she followed a police officer to the scene after hearing gunshots. “I heard the officer tell the other officer, ‘I shot him,’” she said. “They were shaking him, but he didn’t move. He was on his stomach, so they turned him over and the police officer I was with gave him CPR.”

Vaughn stated further that she remained nearby for some time and did not see police recover a weapon at any point. “I didn’t see a gun, no knife, nothing.”

Michael Dizzone told a local TV news station that his wife, who lives with him directly across the street from the shooting and was looking out the window when it took place, did not see Howell with a gun before or after he was shot. “She saw him fall to the ground. She was really upset,” he said.

Zion Police Chief Stephen Dumyahn told the press that he “didn’t know” if any of the department’s policies would change as a result of the shooting. “I’m confident [Hill] acted appropriately,” Dumyahn said. “This has been a very tense situation for him and his family.”

An attorney for Howell’s family, Matthew Dudley, said that they intended to file a federal lawsuit against the Zion Police Department in the coming days.

Several dozen people protested in downtown Waukegan, the seat of Lake County, Friday. In an attempt to intimidate potential demonstrators, officials closed down the Lake County Courthouse and Administrative buildings, in addition to several city streets.

Members of Howell’s family have denounced the decision not to prosecute the police officer who killed the young man. His mother stated, “They gunned my son down. One of my worst fears was confirmed when I heard there would be no justice.”

Alice Howell, the teen’s grandmother, said, “Justus was a loveable, intelligent and bright person. The picture [the police] are painting of him isn’t true.” She compared his killing to that of Walter Scott, saying, “This was an unjustified homicide…There is no difference between the murder in South Carolina and the murder of my grandson.”

Walter Scott was shot in the back and killed while running away from the police in South Carolina April 4—the same day as Justus. The local police department initially attempted to cover up Scott’s murder, claiming that the officer “feared for his life” after Scott struggled for his Taser. This account fell apart after footage taken by a bystander emerged showing that Scott was unarmed and that the officer attempted to plant a weapon by his body.

Al Rogers, a former Waukegan school administrator and spokesman for the Howell family, has derided the “independence” of the investigation into Justus’ killing, stating, “We have no confidence in our local law enforcement agency [or] the major crimes task force. This is [a case of] police policing police.”

Rogers continued, “This young man was executed and at the end of the day, [the investigators] will probably fist-bump and go on to the next tragedy.”

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7 thoughts on “No charges for police officer who shot Illinois teen twice in the back

  1. sojourner

    Disgusting and criminal. I just wrote on another post of yours that the west is fast becoming a full-blown police state. And, as we can see, by this article, the government no longer even tries to hide the fact that it does not serve, protect or care for the people.

    Civil war is just around the next bend in this long, troubled road!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. newsfortherevolution Post author

      There is a definite increase in these types of police state measures being passed throughout the West. Maybe the elite recognize that a shift in the collective consciousness is occurring and their traditional methods of control and propaganda are becoming less affective. They can no longer control the message thanks to our ability to share information with each other from around the world. People are waking up and soon they will be demanding change. The elite want their police states established before that can happen

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. sojourner

        “Maybe the elite recognize that a shift in the collective consciousness is occurring and their traditional methods of control and propaganda are becoming less affective.”

        I think this is it! But as they become more despotic, they will attempt to either take down writers like us, or they will control us through Google or shut the internet down.

        This is why many tech people are starting up browsers that the government SUPPOSEDLY can’t get to. And I hope these folks are right and succeed!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. newsfortherevolution Post author

        I hope those tech people are successful, because I think the elite will be cracking down hard on the internet. If they are already making laws against speaking out against their propaganda, as with Israel, then the next step will be to go after freedom of speech in general.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. ars1947

    We just keep hearing about these cases more and more often. I think that at sone point we’ll eventually cease to care, which is exactly what will drag us further into chaos.

    I also agree with Sojourner, in that our government is done hiding, and it’s come to a point where trying to change anything doesn’t really help.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. newsfortherevolution Post author

      It is surprising that there isn’t more of a outrage among the general population. It seems like the elite have been so successful at dividing the population that the people no longer care what is happening others. As long as these crimes are being committed against marginalized groups the average person doesn’t see it as a problem. They don’t see this as their own rights being under attack, which shows how deep their sense of denial is

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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