On April 4, 2015, in Zion, Illinois, which is roughly an hour outside of Chicago, 17-year-old Justus Howell reportedly got into a fight while trying to buy a gun. Officer Eric Hill arrived on the scene after someone reported gunfire. Howell and Hill crossed paths and reportedly “Hill had been trained to study the way Howell was walking — and he appeared to be armed,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Officer Hill ran after Howell because he believed he was armed and shot the 17-year-old twice in the back.
His reason for shooting him? Officer Hill claimed that while Justus was running, he turned around and pointed the gun at the officer. Reportedly, an intern that was with Officer Hill “saw nothing in Howell’s hands.” Justus’ family claims although he was armed, the gun was in his pocket, not aimed at Officer Hill. They alleged the officer doctored the scene to make it look as if a gun was in Justus’ hand. See the surveillance footage below:
The Chicago Tribune reports Officer Eric Hill has been fully exonerated, “On Thursday, after a week-long civil trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, a jury sided with Hill and the city of Zion on claims of excessive force and wrongful death.”
Justus’ mother, LaToya Howell, told a reporter, “no justice, no peace” and “my son did not get justice in this life.” She also said, “My fight will never stop” and added that a fund-raiser for a scholarship in her son’s name will take place on March 24. Justus was murdered on the same day Walter Scott was killed in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Our condolences go out to Justus Howell’s family and friends.