No charges filed against Rockford police officer in April shooting

Officer deemed to be acting in self-defense, according to the Winnebago County State’s Attorney.
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 1:27 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - No criminal charges will be filed against a Rockford police officer after he shot a man in the thigh in April 2021.

Investigators say Jose Gonzalez Jr. was going 50 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone and when police pulled him over, he proceeded to run away from officers. According to Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley, when the officers caught up with Gonzalez, they said he was holding a Glock 22 .40 caliber handgun in his right hand. Officer Owen McGuinness, fearing for his life, opened fire on Gonzalez, hitting him in the leg.

The five-month-long investigation included interviewing civilian witnesses and reviewing police transmissions from that night. Through these reviews, the State’s Attorney’s Office says it determined that Officer McGuiness acted out of self defense, fearing that Gonzalez would use the handgun he allegedly had in his hand.

According to Hanley, a criminal prosecution for aggravated battery with a firearm or a similar charge would require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer McGuinness was not legally justified in using deadly force against Jose Gonzalez. In other words, a judge or jury would need to conclude that McGuinness did not reasonably believe that he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm from Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is currently facing charges of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Street Gang Member and Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon. Hanley says once Gonzalez’s criminal case is completed, he will release a more detailed memorandum explaining his decision.

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