Justus Howell: No charges against white police officer who shot dead black teen as he was running away

Prosecutors said officer Eric Hill was justified in using lethal force

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The Independent US

Two days after it was announced that a policeman who killed a 19-year-old unarmed black man in Wisconsin would not face charges, prosecutors said an Illinois officer who shot and killed a 17-year black man as he was running away would also not be indicted.

Video footage of the fatal shooting of Justus Howell on April 4 in the town of Zion, showed the teenager running from police and being shot twice in the back.

But prosecutor Michael Nerheim told reporters an investigation that included the Federal Bureau of Investigation had concluded that officer Eric Hill was justified in shooting the teenager.

 

 

“Officer Hill was justified in his decision to use deadly force. Howell was armed and dangerous,” Mr Nerheim said, according to the Associated Press.

He said Mr Hill's understanding that shots had been fired earlier and concern for the other officer factored into his calculation to shoot.

Mr Nerheim said Mr Howell had met a man to buy a handgun but tried to steal it. At some point, he scuffled with the seller and the gun went off.

Mr Hill arrived minutes later, chased Mr Howell through yards and repeatedly yelled, “Stop and drop your gun”, Mr Nerheim said.

 

The officer shot Howell when the teen turned toward him with the gun in his right hand, he added.

But a lawyer for the family of the 17-year protested the decision, saying there was no footage that showed their child with a gun and relatives disagreed with the decision not to charge the officer.

“There is no video or pictures of him actually holding a gun,” Alice Howell, the teen's grandmother, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

She previously compared the incident to another police shooting in South Carolina, in which a white officer was charged with murder after a video showed him repeatedly shooting a black man in the back.

Mr Howell's mother, LaToya Howell, said she was upset that authorities said video showed her son turning toward Mr Hill. “I have seen that video,” she told the newspaper.

“There is nothing that suggests they should execute my son.”

The announcement followed a press conference earlier this week in Madison, Wisconsin, where prosecutors said no charges would be brought against a white officer who shot dead 19-year-old Tony Robinson.

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