CHICAGO (AP) — A judge on Friday acquitted an Amtrak police officer of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Minnesota man at a major train station in Chicago.
Cook County Judge Dennis Porter said LaRoyce Tankson reasonably believed he was acting in self-defense when he shot Chad Robertson in February 2017.
Tankson was on duty near Union Station when he stopped Robertson and two others and attempted to pat them down, telling them he was checking for weapons. Robertson took off running, then turned toward Tankson and reached into a pocket. The officer thought Robertson was reaching for a gun and opened fire.
No weapons were found on Robertson but he had two bags of marijuana in his pocket.
"I consider this to be a very unfortunate situation, a great tragedy, and if I had the power to put everything back for the parties the way it was the week prior to February the 8th of 2017, I would do it in a heartbeat," Porter said.
Rhonda Ward, the mother of Robertson's children, ages 3 and 9, said she was stunned by the verdict.
"What am I supposed to tell my kids? That there's no justice for their daddy? That they can't run, they can't stand still, (police) will shoot you no matter what you do?" Ward said. "I have known (Robertson) since I was 13 years old. He ain't never had no gun or done nothing to hurt anybody. He's been scared of the police his whole life. Now my kids don't have a daddy."
Tankson wept as he embraced his lawyers.
"We are thankful for Mr. Tankson and his family," said one of the lawyers, Will Fahy. "This has been a long ordeal for all of them. I strongly believe this case should never have been charged."
Tankson had been placed on administrative duties after he was charged but now can move to have his police powers restored, Fahy said.
A civil lawsuit against Tankson and Amtrak is pending.
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