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Mom Watches Police Shoot Teen Hours After Her Own Son Was Killed by Cops

By Erica Demarest | June 17, 2013 1:23pm | Updated on June 17, 2013 3:31pm
 Antwoyn Johnson, 24, was shot dead by police early Sunday. Cops claim Johnson pulled a gun, but his family said the father of two didn't have a weapon on him.
Antwoyn Johnson
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ENGLEWOOD — As Stacy Liberty stood outside her Englewood home Sunday night — lighting candles in honor of her son who was killed by police that day — she noticed a commotion in the street.

A teenage boy was running fast, she said, and cops were chasing him.

“All I heard was pow, pow, pow, and the child was on the ground,” Liberty said. “It was a remake of what I had just gone through that morning.”

About 4 a.m. Sunday, Liberty got a call that her son, Antwoyn Johnson, 24, had been shot and killed by police in South Lawndale after they said he reached for a gun. The mother of five rushed to the scene, where she saw her oldest child handcuffed and bloody on the ground.

By 11 that night, Liberty’s family had gathered at her home in the 6600 block of South Sangamon Street to share stories and light candles in honor of Johnson.

Instead, they witnessed the weekend’s second police-involved shooting death. Michael Westley, a 15-year-old who lived down the street, was shot and killed by cops after they said he brandished a gun.

Patrick Camden, a spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, said the gun Westley pointed at police was a .40-caliber handgun with an extended clip. He said police also recovered a revolver that was stashed in Westley's waistband.

“All I knew was a boy child landed in the middle of the street,” Liberty said. “Again. Same day.”

According to the family, Liberty’s son had been riding in a minivan with cousins in the 1700 block of South Springfield Avenue when police stopped the group about 2:30 a.m.

Johnson jumped out of the car and began running, police said in a statement. Cops chased him into an alley, where he slipped and fell to the ground. As Johnson got up, police said, he appeared to be reaching for a weapon in his waistband.

Officers opened fire, killing Johnson.

Johnson’s family claims police never recovered a weapon and that officers shot Johnson three times in his back. A spokesman for the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates officer-involved shootings, refused to comment Monday since the case is ongoing.

“They shot my son for no reason,” Liberty said. “He panicked because he doesn’t like police. He gets out of the car and runs. You automatically think just because he’s black, he has a gun on him?”

Johnson’s family said Monday that the father of two had spent time in jail several years prior and was uncomfortable near police. He pleaded guilty to dealing cocaine in 2008 and to possession of marijuana in 2011, court records show.

But Johnson had turned his life around, said Artese Johnson, his 20-year-old brother.

The father of two was about to start a new job at KFC and had spent weeks eagerly anticipating Father’s Day. He even bought a new outfit, Artese Johnson said, and was planning to barbecue with his 5-year-old sons, Lamaris and Antwoyn Jr.

Family described Antwoyn Johnson as a doting father who taught his kids to swim and play baseball. He loved music and could often be found singing poorly.

“He never knew any of the words,” Artese Johnson said with a laugh. “He’d just go along with the song, but he’d be mumbling the whole time.”

Before he was killed Sunday, Antwoyn Johnson had been heading to a cousin’s house on the West Side. He had just celebrated his sister’s birthday and was going to spend the rest of night with other relatives.

“Right before he drove off, he asked me for $5 and just told me that he wasn’t coming home for the night,” Artese Johnson said as he began to cry. “We didn’t know that he wasn’t coming back.”