Fort Worth officer who shot man holding BBQ fork won't be retried

Prosecutors will not retry Fort Worth officer who shot man holding BBQ fork

FORT WORTH -- A Fort Worth police officer who shot a man holding a barbecue fork won't be retried, the State decided on Thursday.

A mistrial was declared last month in the case of Officer Courtney Johnson.

"After review of the trial of the case, and the evidence produced at that trial, it is my belief that any subsequent retrial is unlikely to result in the return of a unanimous jury verdict," Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson said.

The jury was deadlocked 5-7 in Johnson's case. He was charged with aggravated assault and faced 99 years or life in prison.

The decision comes about a week after the high-profile mistrial of Johnson who shot Craig Adams while he was holding a barbecue fork. The decision brings mixed reactions.

Tim Choy, one of the attorneys for Johnson, says he wants the focus to be on unity in the community.

“I think this was the right result. I don’t think this case should have ever been indicted,” he said. “Hopefully with this case finished, we can open up dialog because the city doesn’t need to be divided in this manner. It’s not productive for anyone.”

The family of Craig Adams says they are disappointed by the decision.

“It’s an injustice not just to my family, but to the African-American community,” said Vernon Elisher, Adams’ cousin. “To be able to say that you’re not gonna retry this man, you’re telling the African-American community that you don’t care.”

The announcement from the Fort Worth District attorney’s Office came at the same time our media partner at the Star-Telegram reported the results of recent racial tension study with the City of Fort Worth, suggesting the city could bridge racial divides through open community talks.

Kyev Tatum is a community activist who says race relations in Fort Worth are the worst they’ve ever been.

“Anyone who is serious about race relations, must understand the impact of institutional racism on the community, so that’s not a conversation. That’s a study of the numbers,” he said. “It sends a message that the district attorney has put police politics ahead of people’s justice.”

Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt says the decision not to retry Johnson sends a negative message.

“They can’t convince 12 jurors that’s a crime? That’s a problem,” he said. “The system is designed to get cops off, and until we address that soberly and change the system. We’re going to see results like this again and again.”

Johnson was on restricted duty. No word yet as to when he will return to patrol.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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