ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A Rockford Police Officer has been cleared of charges after shooting 19-year-old gang member, Jose Gonzalez, Jr. on April 11th.
Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley based his decision on a review of an investigation undertaken by the Winnebago-Boone County Integrity Task Force, his office said in a statement on Friday.
Hanley said Officer Owen McGuinness used reasonable force in shooting Gonzalez to protect himself from death or great bodily harm.
According to police, around 7:15 p.m., Officers Parr and McGuinness tried to stop a grey Volkswagen Passat near N. Central and Michigan Avenues in Rockford. Police say previous investigations show that the Passat belonged to Gonzalez, who is also known as an “M-block” gang member often seen on social media displaying handguns while inside a vehicle.
After trying to speed away, dashcam video shows the car pull over at the 400 block of Illinois Avenue to let out a passenger, Gonzalez.
Gonzalez ran into a residential area to elude police. Officer McGuiness exited the squad car to follow Gonzalez.
Video shows neighbors point officers in his direction. The officer followed Gonzalez through several backyards and fences.
Hanley said McGuinness encountered Gonzalez behind the houses, and said McGuinness saw Gonzalez pointing a gun at him.
Authorities say McGuinness shot Gonzalez was shot in the right thigh. Gonzalez was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Dashcam video does not capture the shooting, but police did release audio between dispatchers and officers.
A Glock handgun with an extended magazine and laser sight were recovered at the scene.
“A criminal prosecution for aggravated battery with a firearm or a similar charge would require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Ofc. McGuinness was not legally justified in using deadly force against Jose Gonzalez. In other words, a judge or jury would need to conclude that Ofc. McGuinness did not reasonably believe that he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm from Gonzalez,” Hanley wrote.
Gonzalez is charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Street Gang Member.