An Amtrak police officer was charged with first-degree murder for shooting a man in the back after confronting him for smoking marijuana in a Chicago train station.
Laroyce Tankson, 31, turned himself in on Thursday after a warrant was issued for his arrest for the February 8 shooting that took place outside Union Station. His bond was set at $250,000.
The victim, Chad Robertson, 31, had no weapons or a criminal record when he shot. All he had was a small amount of weed.
The incident took place on February 8 when Robertson and two friends who were traveling by bus from Memphis to Minneapolis killed time in Chicago’s Union Station to wait for the next bus.
The three men stepped outside the station to smoke a joint when they were confronted by Tankson and other officers, who told them to put it out.
Robertson apologized and did as he was told. The cops allowed the men to leave, so they went to a nearby restaurant to eat.
Then they returned to the station to retrieve their luggage and board the bus to Minneapolis, but the officers confronted them again, ordering them up against the wall to be searched.
While the cops were patting them down, Robertson took off running.
“If you don’t stop running, I’m going to shoot you,” Tankson yelled as he pulled out his gun, crouched and fired a round, which struck Robertson in the neck.
Although, prosecutors said, the officers did not suspect the three of any criminal offense other than possession of cannabis, they detained them and ordered them to stand against a nearby glass wall.
As the officers began to pat them down, Robert bolted. Prosecutors said four people saw the incident and that “none of the witnesses saw Robertson with a weapon nor did they see him gesture or turn toward the officers.”
As Robertson fled, prosecutors said, Tankson crouched and fired his pistol, hitting the victim once. Robertson “immediatlely fell face first to the ground and remained on the ground motionless,” prosecutors said. “No weapon of any kind was recovered from Robertson orin the vicinity.”
Chicago attorney Douglas Hopson, who represented the Robertson family, told the the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that the officer had yelled “‘If you don’t stop running, I’m going to shoot you,’ and Chad kept running.”
Hopson said Robertson, the father of two young children, had no criminal record, and was unarmed but was carrying “an insignificant amount” of marijuana.
Tankson and his partner became suspicious when — after the initial encounter with police — one of the people who’d been smoking marijuana went back into Union Station to pick up a bunch of “bags.”
“It’s very suspicious behavior,” Fahy said.
When Tankson and his partner approached Robertson and the other smokers again, Robertson refused to allow Tankson to search him, Fahy said.
“Mr. Robertson is refusing to be patted down. He’s acting very nervously,” Fahy said. At the same time, Tankson’s partner runs his hand across something that feels like a gun while searching the other smoker, Fahy said.
And when Roberton fled, Tankson saw him turn and reach for what Tankson thought was a gun, Fahy said.
“He reasonably believed he was about to be shot,” Fahy said.
That video has not yet been released. Below is a video interview of Robertson’s sister recorded by the Chicago Sun-Times.