Christian Green was fleeing two Chicago cops on a sunny Fourth of July afternoon back in 2013 when, according to one of the officers, the 17-year-old ran into a vacant lot, raised a gun and pointed it at police.
Within seconds, Green would be fatally shot by Officer Robert Gonzalez.
Both officers testified Thursday morning in the trial of a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by Green’s mother.
But a more high-profile witness is slated for later Thursday: Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson. He was not superintendent at time, but he was the highest ranking officer on the scene in the aftermath of the shooting and served as the acting street deputy who signed off on police reports.
Thursday morning, Officer George Hernandez testified that he’d just steered his unmarked Chevy Tahoe over a curb and into the vacant lot in the Washington Park neighborhood when Green partially turned as he was running full speed and pointed a gun at officers.
Hernandez said he heard his partner, Robert Gonzalez, yell “Drop the gun! Drop the gun!” before Gonzalez opened fire through the front passenger side window.
Gonzalez fired 11 shots from a range of about 15 or 20 feet, Hernandez testified in the Daley Center courtroom in the Loop.
Initial police reports indicated Green had been shot in chest. But an autopsy revealed that he’d been shot in the back.
Hernandez said Thursday that after he exited his vehicle in the moments after the shooting, he saw that Green had dropped his gun. The teen reached for it but stumbled and was unable to grab it as his momentum carried him forward about 20 or 30 feet before collapsing, Hernandez said.
Attorney Victor Henderson — who’s suing the city and Gonzalez for unspecified damages on behalf of Green’s mother — has said the gun was found 75 feet from Green’s body.
Henderson acknowledges that Green was running with a gun — surveillance video captured from a nearby business shows as much — but contends the teen was not armed and was running away at the time of the shooting.
Hernandez said that after the shooting he met with detectives and Johnson for a “walk through,” a police term in which the officers involved in the shooting provide a detailed account of “what exactly transpired.”
The Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates police shootings, determined the officers involved acted within departmental guidelines.
Cook County Judge Judge Elizabeth Budzinski — during a brief hearing prior to the trial — ruled that the video will be allowed to be released to the public.
It shows Green trying to toss the gun in a garbage can, but it bounces off the rim of the can and out, at which point he stops and picks it back up.
The video was not initially released because Green was a minor.
The Cook Country Medical Examiner Dr. Ponni Arunkumar is scheduled to testify Thursday afternoon after Johnson.
Officer Gonzalez is slated to testify Friday morning.
The trial, which began Tuesday, is expected to last at least another eight days.