FORT WORTH, TEXAS – Fort Worth police officer Courtney Johnson — whose charge of aggravated assault by a public servant for shooting a man who was holding a barbecue fork was dismissed last month after a mistrial — has been fired, police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said Tuesday.
Johnson, 35, was accused of shooting Craigory Adams by recklessly handling his shotgun on June 23, 2015.
“We found that these actions were careless and that led to an individual being injured and that’s something we can’t let happen,” Fitzgerald said.
A two-count indictment accused Johnson of taking his gun off safety and sliding the pump action back, then forward as it was pointed toward Adams. The shotgun fired, hitting Adams in the arm. The officer has said he thought Adams was holding a knife, but it was actually a barbecue fork.
In Johnson’s trial, the jury split 5-7, but it was not known which way the majority voted.
Johnson testified that based on information from the 911 call taker, he thought Adams was holding a knife. Johnson’s attorneys, Tim Choy and Jim Lane, maintained that the shooting was accidental but acknowledged that the case may have been difficult for jurors to understand.
“After review of the trial 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,” a motion filed by District Attorney Sharen Wilson stated.
Adams, a mentally challenged man who was living with his parents, was outside holding a barbecue fork when he knocked on a neighbor’s door and the neighbor called police.
Johnson failed to identify himself as a police officer when he approached Johnson, said Tamala Ray, a Tarrant County prosecutor. Johnson drove up to the location of the call without his lights and sirens activated and gave Adams several commands, Ray said.
Adams dropped the barbecue fork and dropped to one knee, Ray said in her opening statement at trial.
“At the end of the day, my decision is about safety, security, and community confidence in our officers,” said Fitzgerald in a news release. “Johnson made the wrong decision, and he could have killed Craigory Adams. It’s important to note that Mr. Adams had knelt and dropped the barbecue fork he was holding, and was compliant at the time he was wounded.”