COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A woman was found guilty of the first-degree murder of a Chicago police officer in Lakeview in 2008, a jury decided Wednesday night.
Robin Johnson, a woman with a reported history of mental illness, was on trial for the murder of Chicago Police Officer Richard Francis and the attempted murder of four other responding officers.
Johnson was found guilty of murdering Johnson in the early morning hours of July 2, 2008 and faces life in prison.
She was found not guilty for the attempted murder of the other four officers.
Prosecutors said Francis was not prepared for what he found outside a CTA bus in Lakeview at Belmont and Western, where a woman was harassing people.
Francis, 60, responded in the early morning hours of July 2, 2008 to a call for help from a CTA bus driver. Minutes later the veteran Chicago cop lay dying in the street with a bullet wound to the head while a shoot-out erupted around him.
"He underestimated the situation," said Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Coleman. "He was working in a one-man car in a neighborhood that's not that bad."
Coleman said Johnson "was on a rampage" on the bus.
When the officer showed up, "she turned her rage to him ... and it ended in the worst possible way," Coleman said. "She put the gun in his face and pulled the trigger."
But Johnson's defense attorney, assistant public defender Kulmeet "Bob" Galhotra, argued that she was "a confused, distressed person who needed help." Her attorney said that Francis forced Johnson down onto his squad car as she struggled and "his service revolver went off."
Coleman countered that "Whatever struggle that was going on, that she started, it was over when she pulled the trigger."
Johnson allegedly shot Francis once in the face — the bullet pierced his eye, cut through his brain and tore through the back of his head — and then twice more.
With Francis lying prone in the street, Johnson then turned the service revolver on four more cops who rushed to the scene moments later, prosecutors said. The officers fired back, they said, striking Johnson multiple times in her arms and upper body.
"Just to be clear, they were trying to shoot her," Coleman said. "They put their lives right in the line of fire. ... She absolutely intended to kill him."
When the gunfire stopped, Johnson lay bleeding in the street, but she wasn't dead.
Prosecutors said the officers had to run past Francis' lifeless body to get to Johnson.
"She was still moving, she still had a gun in her hand," Coleman said.
Defense attorneys representing Johnson, in arguing that the gun went off in the struggle, say Johnson never intended to kill the officer.
Johnson was also found guilty of aggravated discharge of a firearm, for shooting at an officer who wasn't Francis, and of disarming an officer.
Regarding the four "not guilty" attempted murder verdicts, Valente said she respected the jury's decision.
"We respect their verdict," Valente said. "They did come back on the most serious charged."