FORT WORTH — A Tarrant County grand jury indicted a Fort Worth police officer Tuesday for shooting and wounding a man he thought could be an armed prowler.
The shooting happened at 3:30 in the morning last June 23. Craig Adams, 55, came outside his elderly parents' home for some cool air. At the same time, Fort Worth Officer Courtney Johnson responded to a Priority One call of a prowler with a knife.
The two met in Adams’ driveway on New York Avenue. Adams was holding what turned out to be a large barbeque fork.
The officer got out of his unit with a shotgun. A blast hit Adams in the shoulder.
"It was an unintentional shooting; I don't think there's any question about it,” said attorney Jim Lane, who is representing Johnson. Lane and attorney Tim Choy say the shotgun discharged when the officer pumped it to get the uncooperative suspect to follow commands.
"This particular shotgun has been known to discharge," Choy said.
Whether or not the gun malfunctioned or the officer accidentally pulled the trigger when he pumped it, Johnson's attorneys say it doesn't amount to aggravated assault by a public servant.
"From the in-car video you can clearly tell it was not an intentional act," Choy said Tuesday afternoon.
Officer Johnson fought in Iraq, then coached baseball at Irving MacArthur High before becoming a cop. He has two small children, including a newborn.
Craig Adams' parents said he is a caring son who was off his medications for bipolar disorder. They said he had been talking to himself, but that he has never been violent.
"He's so thoughtful of watching over us,” Jeanette Adams sighed. “We stub our toe, he's right there to help us."
There were no witnesses, and this was not Officer Johnson’s usual beat.
Craig Adams' parents say if a neighborhood officer had been first to arrive, they might have recognized him, because they’ve been to the house before when Adams was off his meds. But they emphasize that there was never trouble with police.
Craig Adams is recovering in a rehab unit. As of Tuesday afternoon, officer Johnson remained on desk duty.
Attorneys bristled at Adams’ claim that the officer used a racial slur, and said they are shocked by the indictment.
Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said this about the indictment:
Let us be clear, we are still the “good guys.” This job takes honesty, integrity, courage, and the ability to make split second judgement calls. We understand that our actions will receive scrutiny, and that accountability exists for those actions.Whether Officer Johnson is found guilty, or not guilty, it is a no win scenario for Mr. Adams, Officer Johnson, and this agency. Although we enjoy tremendous community support, given the current national environment, we must now work even harder to maintain our reputation as a fair and impartial police department. In the truest spirit of transparency, we have released the dash cam video of this incident with the hope that everyone reserves final judgment until the adjudication of this case in court.