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Chicago Man Killed in Drug Bust Gone Bad

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #691)
Consequences of Prohibition

[Editor's Note: This year, Drug War Chronicle is trying to track every death directly attributable to drug law enforcement during the year. We can use your help. If you come across a news account of a killing related to drug law enforcement, please send us an email at [email protected].]

Cook County Sheriff's deputies shot and killed a Chicago man last Thursday after an attempted drug bust in a suburban County Club Hills strip mall parking lot resulted in a gun fight and car chase that also left four deputies injured. Nyarko Johnson, 38, becomes the 31st person to be killed in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

The aftermath of an undercover drug operation that spun "out of control," according to police.
According to accounts from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, undercover narcotics detectives got into an "altercation" with Johnson, who was the target of a drug investigation, and the operation spun "out of control." The Sun-Times cited Cooke County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Patterson saying Johnson fled the scene in his vehicle and attempted to strike one of the officers with the car.

Johnson, who was armed, was shot as he "attempted to injure our officers," Paterson said. Johnson continued driving his vehicle through parking lots and struck a police vehicle, causing it to flip over, injuring at least two officers. All of the injured deputies have since been treated and released.

Witnesses said the police vehicle had been chasing and bumping the back bumper of Johnson vehicle and gun shots were being exchanged. After Johnson's vehicle came to a halt, it was swarmed by officers with guns drawn. He had been hit multiple times by gun fire and died hours later at a local hospital.

The Sun-Times later reported that Johnson had an extensive arrest record, including a 1991 felony possession of a controlled substance rap to which he pleaded guilty and got probation; a 2001 trial for two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm, in which he was acquitted; a 2003 guilty plea to resisting police, which got him three days in jail; a 2008 guilty plea to aggravated assault that got him a year's probation; and a 2009 arrest for with possession of marijuana, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in which the charges were dropped. Police also said he had recently pleaded guilty in federal court to narcotics conspiracy and was to surrender to serve a five-year prison sentence at the time he was killed.

Three other men were arrested at the scene and charged with possession of a controlled substance and delivery of a controlled substance (cocaine). Police said more charges may be pending.

The killing will be investigated by the Illinois State Police.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Arnold (not verified)

Another success of our wonderful police state...

Mon, 07/04/2011 - 7:09pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

and all the pleas and convictions were only on drug charges.  If there was no drug war, he wouldn't have been called a "criminal", there would have been no reason for the cops to go after him and he'd be still alive and those injured cops would have remained injury free and their vehicle would still be intact.

Tue, 07/05/2011 - 4:36am Permalink
Skootercat (not verified)


Earlier in his term as Senator, Jim Webb of Virginia offered a bill to look into our justice system, S-714, a bill to establish the National Criminal Justice Commission. Since, he has decided not to run for re-election and, although there are some co-sponsors, no one is talking about the need for this legislation. Does anyone know what will become of this oversight legislation? I call my NJ Senators about it and all I am told is they are co-sponsors. I write to them after many of the headlines regarding SWAT raids, wrong door raids, war on some drugs going awry, medical marijuana, and especially the Paul-Frank bill, and all I get is double speak form letter responses. By now, all I can suppose is that they are not interested in taking on the law enforcement industrial complex. The GOP situation in Pima County, AZ is but a microcosm of what probably happens in every community looking for similar answers. Thank you for taking on the killings and other irregularities of police life in America.

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 12:20pm Permalink
McD (not verified)

This case is interesting, because it illustrates why the law enforcement is so intractably addicted to cannabis: they know this guy's a baddie (And, hey, let's face it - look at his rap sheet - two murders, attempted murder, beating people up, shooting off guns, spitting in cops' faces - he ain't no pussycat - there are plenty of these people around.) and they know he's going to hurt someone, but they just can't make anything stick in court. OK, granted, in this particular case they'd come to put the guy away for five years, but still... How many people had he hurt before they got him and how many more like him are out there?

If cannabis were legal, the police would lose one of their most frequently used tools for sinking hooks into baddies who would otherwise be free like wolves among sheep. I don't believe using (cannabis) prohibition as the police do is a good way to approach criminal justice, but you can understand why they, who often tend not to be the most intellectually gifted of human resources, rely on it so heavily.

Sometimes it's good to look at the issue from the other guys' perspective.

Mon, 07/11/2011 - 1:07am Permalink
Nedmorlef (not verified)

In miami this week it seems as though the police may have gotten caught "getting run over" and shooting at the guy with over a hundred rounds and killing him. It was all caught on cell phone video by a passerby. Whom was immediately confronted only to be threatened ,arrested along with his girlfriend and then, having his cell phone smashed.

Fortunately this guy was smart enough to remove the memory card and put it in his mouth. Let's watch and see if these murderers get cleared like the others.

Remember, this is you and me they are killing....without a trial, w/o a prior accusation or warrant. These are street hits being done by your gov't . You don't even have to leave your house. They'll gladly slaughter you in your own bed .

No one is safe if, we all have to worry about witnessing a crime and being arrested for it. 

Thu, 07/14/2011 - 11:19am Permalink
Boomslang (not verified)

...and the time is right, for fightin' in the street! They executed him. He got a few shots off back at them; that's more than most of their victims get.


Good work pigs. You got some tiny amount of coke off the streets - that oughta' make a big difference! Well worth a man's life. Soldier wannabees...

Sun, 07/17/2011 - 10:47pm Permalink

I am one of the attorneys that filed a lawsuit against the police for the wrongful death of Nyarko Johnson.  He was unarmed during the altercation and the police car flipped trying to smash Mr. Johnson's fleeing car.  None of the initial officers were in uniform and none of the police cars were marked.  Please contact me if you have any video recorded footage of the incident or if you witnessed it.

Tue, 07/10/2012 - 7:50pm Permalink

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