Rietz: No charges for Champaign officer who said shooting of unarmed man was accident (w/video)

Rietz: No charges for Champaign officer who said shooting of unarmed man was accident (w/video)

UPDATE:

CHAMPAIGN — State's Attorney Julia Rietz has decided not to pursue criminal charges against a Champaign police officer who shot an unarmed man in the shoulder.

But two months after what Officer James Hobson described as an accidental shooting, a second investigation into his actions on June 11 — this one conducted by Champaign police — is just beginning, the department said Thursday, not long after Rietz's announcement.

Once that internal investigation is complete, its Firearms Discharge Review Board will convene to address the factors of the incident, followed by Chief Anthony Cobb' review and recommendations, including any potential discipline, police said.

The probe centers around an incident that began at 10:37 on June 11, when Hobson attempted to stop a vehicle driven by Dehari Banks, 23, in the 400 block of East Washington Street for an alleged traffic violation. According to an incident report, Banks allegedly kept driving for several blocks, eventually pulling into a driveway in the 400 block of East Church Street, where his car ran into a garage.

Banks then got out of the car and ran with Hobson in pursuit on foot. Both men ran between houses, backyards and alley ways, with Hobson shouting at Banks to stop and identifying himself as a police officer, according to the account given to authorities by Hobson.

The foot chase ended when Banks reached a fenced-in area in the 300 block of North Fourth Street. He then turned toward Hobson, who drew his duty weapon as he was coming to a running stop, the officer said.

Hobson told authorities his footing slipped, and he ended up accidentally firing one gunshot, which hit Banks in the shoulder.

"Officer Hobson's display of his firearm was appropriate given the totality of the circumstances, and the evidence supports the conclusion that the firearm was discharged accidentally," Rietz wrote in a letter to Cobb dated Wednesday and made public Thursday. "I would consider this matter closed and am confident that you will address any further issues internally through training and supervision."

Hobson wasn't wearing a body camera, Cobb said at the time. CPD had just started using that technology on a limited basis two months earlier, and Hobson had not been assigned a body camera.

 

'I need an ambulance, sir'

On Thursday, Champaign police released the dashcam video, which didn't capture the shooting, along with audio from a microphone Hobson was wearing.

The video shows Hobson pursuing a car for about 35 seconds. After turning a corner, Hobson exits his squad car and can be heard running for about 15 seconds.

As he yells, "Get your hands up," his gun fires.

"I'm sorry. Yes, sir," Banks can be heard saying while screaming.

Hobson then asks Banks if he'd been hit.

"I need an ambulance, sir," Banks replies. "You shot me in the arm, sir."

A multi-jurisdictional team led by Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Mike Atkinson investigated the incident and provided Rietz with the report, to determine whether a crime occurred.

"I have reviewed the reports provided by the Illinois State Police investigators, including the written report of Officer James Hobson and the report of ISP investigators' interview with Dehari Banks, and the squad car video/audio of the incident," Rietz wrote. "Based on that review, I have determined that there is no basis for criminal charges with regard to Officer Hobson's actions."

Rietz said she looked at two main questions: whether it was appropriate under the law for Hobson to display his weapon and whether it was appropriate under the law for him to fire it.

"His display and use of the firearm was appropriate, given that he was chasing a fleeing individual, that they ended up in a dark alley, for officer safety reasons," Rietz said in an interview. "He certainly didn't have enough information to know whether the individual was armed or why he was fleeing at that time, so displaying his firearm was absolutely appropriate under the law."

 

Statements 'consistent'

As for firing his weapon, Rietz said it comes down to the officer's intent or mental state.

"All of the evidence provided to me shows that the discharge of the firearm was an accident," Rietz said. "In this case, we have a report from the officer. We also have a statement from Dehari Banks. ... His statement is consistent with the report from the officer. Banks wasn't specific about the officer's foot slipping, but he did say that everyone was surprised."

According to Champaign police, Hobson reported that Banks reached a fenced-in area and turned toward Hobson. Hobson then drew his gun as he was coming to a running stop. As he was doing this, he said his foot slipped on the ground and caused an accidental discharge.

His finger was near the trigger because he was trying to use his finger to turn on a flashlight attached to his gun, Hobson reported, according to Rietz.

After the shooting, Hobson was placed on paid administrative leave. On June 22, he was assigned to desk duty and firearms training, pending completion of the multi-jurisdictional investigation and the state's attorney's decision.


ORIGINAL STORY:


CHAMPAIGN — State's Attorney Julia Rietz has decided not to pursue criminal charges against a Champaign police officer who shot an unarmed man.

On June 11, Officer James Hobson tried to stop a vehicle driven by Dehari Banks, 23, for an alleged traffic violation. After Banks kept going, then reportedly crashed into a garage on East Church Street and fleeing on foot, Hobson, who had his gun drawn during the foot pursuit, told his supervisors that his footing slipped and he accidentally fired, hitting Banks in the shoulder.

Hobson described the shooting as an accident. He wasn't wearing a body camera at the time, said Police Chief Anthony Cobb, whose department started using that technology on a limited basis in April.

A multi-jurisdictional team led by Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Mike Atkinson investigated the incident and provided Rietz with the report, to determine whether a crime occurred.

"I have reviewed the reports provided by the Illinois State Police investigators, including the written report of Officer James Hobson and the report of ISP investigators' interview with Dehari Banks, and the squad car video/audio of the incident," Rietz wrote in a letter to Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb. "Based on that review, I have determined that there is no basis for criminal charges with regard to Officer Hobson's actions.

"Officer Hobson's display of his firearm was appropriate given the totality of the circumstances and the evidence supports the conclusion that the firearm was discharged accidentally. I would consider this matter closed and am confident that you will address any further issues internally through training and supervision."

After the incident, Hobson was placed on paid administrative leave. On June 22, he was assigned to desk duty and firearms training, pending completion of the multi-jurisdictional investigation and the state’s attorney’s decision, Champaign police said in a news release.

CPD will now conduct its own internal investigation. Once this is done, its Firearms Discharge Review Board will convene to address the factors of the incident, and then Chief Cobb will complete a final review to implement his findings and recommendations, including any potential discipline, the news release said.

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welive wrote on August 17, 2017 at 6:08 pm

we never thought there would be.I mean running with a loaded primed weapon.Thats just good training there.I guess its just luck that it hit the man he was chassing in the shoulder right.It could of hit a inocent person.I am glad to see he is getting more firearms training.maybe all police should recieve more training.Heres a thought take the guns away from patrol officers only allow the sargent and lt have a loaded weapon.Give these other cops tasers? #alllivesmatter

Thewatcher wrote on August 17, 2017 at 7:08 pm

I would respect your comment if you could actually type. Go back to school before you start writing crap. 

welive wrote on August 18, 2017 at 1:08 pm

i be so sorry i no type good enough for you.i was kicked out of school.thank you

 

davidpettigrew32@gmail.com wrote on August 18, 2017 at 2:08 pm

white officer no charge by Julia Rietz. I am not surprised.

 

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on August 18, 2017 at 3:08 pm

You did see of course that the suspect in this case was also not charged, despite not having a drivers license.  He was arrested two weeks ago for DUI/DUS.   I guess we will see how much Fred Stavins decides to pay this guy,