The Chicago Amtrak police officer who shot and killed a Minneapolis man two years ago has been found not guilty of murder.
In February 2017, LaRoyce Tankson shot 25-year-old Chad Robertson near the city's Union Station after attempting to pat him down in an apparent search for weapons.
Robertson took off running during the search, at which point Tankson opened fire. Robertson was struck and died of his wounds a week later, leaving behind two young kids.
At the time of the shooting, Robertson was with two friends traveling home to Minneapolis from Tennessee; the group had an hour-long layover in Chicago, during which they decided to smoke marijuana.
That lead to the encounter with Tankson and another Amtrak officer. As a result of the shooting that followed, Tankson was placed on administrative leave and eventually charged with first-degree murder.
On Friday, Cook County, Illinois, Judge Dennis Porter acquitted Tankson following a bench trial (in which the defendant chooses to be tried by a judge, instead of a jury).
As the Chicago Tribune reports, Porter found that Robertson had "turned slightly toward Tankson and reached into his left pocket" while running away — apparently trying to toss some marijuana to the ground — which "Tankson interpreted as Robertson reaching for a gun."
"The thought that Officer Tankson was some type of cowboy out to put another notch on his gun is not borne out by the record in any way, shape or form, in my opinion,” Porter said, per the Tribune.
"Tankson wept as he embraced his lawyers after Porter finished reading an explanation for his ruling," the Chicago Sun-Times notes, adding that Robertson's supporters "gasped" in the courtroom gallery at the decision.
While Tankson will seek to have his police powers restored, the paper says, he and Amtrak are still facing a pending civil lawsuit over Robertson's death.