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Second Man Charged In Lake Shore Drive Death

By Kelly Bauer | June 4, 2016 2:31pm | Updated on June 6, 2016 8:41am
 Pamela Johnson was hit and killed on Lake Shore Drive, allegedly after being chased by this group, police said.
Pamela Johnson was hit and killed on Lake Shore Drive, allegedly after being chased by this group, police said.
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Chicago Police

CHICAGO — A second man has been charged with murder in the death of a woman on Lake Shore Drive last weekend.

Devonte Dodd, 20, has been charged with murder, attempted armed robbery and mob action, according to a Sunday police announcement.

On Saturday, bond was set at $500,000 for Semaj Waters, 18, of the 9100 block of South Burnside, who had also been charged in connection to the woman's death.

Prosecutors said Dodd and Waters chased Pamela Johnson, 32, and her boyfriend onto Lake Shore Drive during an attempted robbery, leading to Johnson's death. But activists have said the men are innocent and Waters' family denied he was trying to rob Johnson or was involved in her death.

Johnson and her boyfriend, Eugene Jackson, were "sitting on the lakefront, enjoying the lake," in the early hours of May 29, prosecutors said. Jackson said he saw Waters walk by with two other people and Waters had his hand in his backpack, which he was wearing on his chest, prosecutors said.

A group of people walked and biked by and Waters and the two other people left, prosecutors said. Jackson and Johnson were nervous and decided they would have to run across Lake Shore Drive if the group returned, prosecutors said.

At the same time, Waters and the people he was with met up with another, larger group of people, and that larger group followed Waters and the two others as they walked in the direction of Jackson and Johnson, prosecutors said.

Seeing the large group, Jackson and Johnson ran off, prosecutors said. Someone in the group shouted, "We have a runner!" and the group of people chased Jackson and Johnson onto Lake Shore Drive, where they were hit by a car, prosecutors said.

Johnson was killed and Jackson had minor injuries, prosecutors said. Waters walked away from the accident but then returned and Jackson pointed him out to police, saying the 18-year-old had chased him and had a gun.

Videos show Waters and a group of people traveling downtown before the incident and going to the South Side afterward, prosecutors said. A video also shows him changing his hoodie after the incident, prosecutors said.

Police released images from the video and Waters was among a group of men who turned themselves into police, prosecutors said. Jackson identified Waters as the person who had a gun and chased him and Johnson, prosecutors said.

Scott Gordon, Waters' attorney, told the judge he has not heard of police finding a gun, and he said officers went to Waters' home and told the family they had a search warrant. They took several items from the home, but the warrant they had was unsigned, Gordon said.

Jackson has no criminal history. He was attending school and working part-time for his father's construction company, Gordon said.

Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. said there was "just enough" for a finding of probable cause.

"I cannot deny that there is a woman now deceased. A mother," Bourgeois said before setting Waters' bond at $500,000.

If Waters can post bail, he will have to be electronically monitored, Bourgeois said.

Waters' family, who encouraged Waters to turn himself in after seeing the images released by police, described him as a good boy who witnessed the accident but did not attempt to rob Jackson and Johnson.

Waters' father, Jerry Brown, said his son sat beside Johnson's body, asking police if they were going to help her, for 30 minutes.

"I feel that they actually right now [are] putting too much of the pressure on one child out of 11. I feel right now that we're already at a situation where it's not starting off to be a fair fight for the kids as well as for the lady who passed," Brown, surrounded by family, said outside the courthouse. "This is not just about my son. This is about the lady that passed, the family that's missing [her]. And for those other 10 kids that's out there, not knowing what's going to happen to them, as well."

Gordon called the incident "a tragic case, but it's certainly an accident."

Activist Andrew Holmes, a relative of Johnson's, said Waters was "innocent until proven guilty."

"We're going to be working with the Waters family and let the judicial system decide this in court," Holmes said. "Who was in the wrong, who was in the right."

Jedidiah Brown, an activist who has been speaking out for Waters, criticized the case, saying the group of young men were being made into "scapegoats."

"We know that Semaj is innocent," Jedidiah Brown said. "... What you're gonna see is that this case is gonna fall apart because these young, black boys are being made scapegoats because this is Downtown, Gold Coast and the detectives did not do a full and thorough investigation. ... We thank you all for not judging the situation and allowing the process to take its course."

 Semaj Waters, 18, (l) and Devonte Dodd, 20, have been charged with murder, attempted armed robbery and mob action.
Semaj Waters, 18, (l) and Devonte Dodd, 20, have been charged with murder, attempted armed robbery and mob action.
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Chicago Police Department

On Friday, family of Waters and some of the other young men denied they were trying to rob Johnson, saying she died as a result of a domestic dispute.

“We turned him in because we were afraid of how the system railroads these young men,” said Brown on Friday. “This is about something our kids had nothing to do with. We’re not only here for our kids, we’re here for the young sister that died.”


• Family Denies Man Chased Woman Onto Lake Shore Drive, Where She Was Killed

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• This Group Chased Woman Onto Lake Shore Drive, Where She Was Killed: Police

• Woman Runs Across Lake Shore Drive To Escape Robbers, Gets Hit And Killed

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