ROCKFORD (WREX) — The Rockford Police Officer who shot a 19-year-old man back in April has been cleared of any charges.
Winnebago County State's Attorney J. Hanley sent out a press release Friday morning clearing officer Owen McGuiness of any charges in the shooting.
The shooting happened the night of April 11 in the 400 block of Illinois Avenue.
Dash cam videos show officers tried conducting a traffic stop in the area of Central and Michigan around 7 p.m. when the car, a gray Volkswagen Passat, drove off.
State's Attorney Hanley says the vehicle belonged to Julio Gonzalez, who is a known "M block" gang member and has been seen on social media displaying handguns while inside of a vehicle.
The Volkswagen stopped near 417 Illinois Ave. and the passenger, later identified as 19-year-old Jose J. Gonzalez Jr., got out of the vehicle and started running.
Officer McGuiness got out of the squad car and began chasing Gonzalez.
Behind the houses at 417 and 415 Illinois Ave., Ofc. McGuiness encountered Gonzalez and fired his weapon, hitting Gonzalez in the right thigh, according to Hanley.
Ofc. McGuinness stated that he observed the firearm in Gonzalez’ right hand, that the gun was aimed at McGuinness, and that a green laser was pointed at him prior to his firing at Gonzalez.
Hanley says the investigation showed that during his encounter with Ofc. McGuiness, Gonzalez possessed a Glock 22 .40 caliber handgun with an extended magazine and a green laser sight.
"After reviewing the entire investigation and based upon the totality of the circumstances, Officer McGuinness’ belief that shooting Gonzalez was necessary to protect himself from death or great bodily harm was reasonable. Officer McGuinness’ use of deadly force was justified and thus, no criminal charges will be filed in this case," Hanley said in the press release.
Gonzalez was later charged with unlawful possession of a weapon by a gang member.
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.
This officer-involved shooting came one day after Winnebago County deputies were involved in the shooting death of Faustin Guetigo.
The deputies involved in that shooting were cleared of any charges last month by State's Attorney Hanley.