A jury couldn’t agree on a verdict in the trial of a Fort Worth police officer who shot a man who was holding a barbecue fork.
Jurors on Wednesday sent two notes to the judge saying they were deadlocked with five people reaching one verdict and seven reaching the other after deliberating for seven hours. They couldn’t come to a unanimous verdict and the judge was forced to declare a mistrial.
Officer Courtney Johnson left the courtroom under heavy protection by Fort Worth police.
"Obviously, he wants a resolution in this case,” said Defense Attorney Tim Choy. “But at the same time, it's good to know the jury, who are citizens of Tarrant county, believed that almost half or more than half believe that he should have been acquitted."
Johnson was on trial for aggravated assault for shooting and wounding Craigory Adams in June of 2015. Dashcam video shows him responding to a call of a prowler with a knife. The knife turned out to be a barbecue fork.
Prosecutors told the jury the shooting was reckless because Johnson ignored his training by taking the safety off the shotgun and pointing it at Adams.
Johnson's attorneys argued the shooting was unintentional but also acknowledged the officer's gun did not malfunction.
Defense Attorney Jim Lane says that movement caused Johnson's finger to move from the trigger guard onto the trigger and the shotgun fired.
“It's tragic all the way around: for the family of the police officer, tragic for the family of the victim, in this case, Mr. Adams,” Lane said. “You could see in the courtroom it brought a real split, lot of tension in there.”
The trial was closely watched by community activists. Jacqueline Craig was at the trial on Wednesday. She's the woman involved in the controversial arrest by Fort Worth police. She's unhappy with how her case has been resolved and disappointed by the mistrial in the Johnson case.
“Fighting for justice that we deserve,” she said. “Not saying activist. But if that's where it leads me, I'm ok with it."
Prosecutors didn't talk on camera, but the Tarrant County district attorney said “we will consider the jury's inability to reach a verdict and the evidence presented at trial to decide whether a retrial is justified."