Oklahoma Officer Cleared of Wrongdoing in Deadly January Shooting

April 23, 2021 Updated: April 23, 2021

Authorities have cleared Nathan Ronan, the Lawton Police Department (LPD) officer who fatally shot Zonterious Johnson on Jan. 17, of any wrongdoing, the police chief said.

“The Comanche County District Attorney’s Office has thoroughly reviewed the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation report and has cleared the officer involved of any wrongdoing,” LPD Chief James Smith said in a statement (pdf) on Monday.

Johnson had been celebrating his 24th birthday in Lavish Lounge, a local restaurant and social club, before the incident, The Lawton Constitution reported.

Officers who were doing a compliance check in the restaurant heard gunshots outside and went out to check. Police found Johnson was engaged in gunfire with another individual outside the restaurant. One of the officers, Ronan, identified himself as a police officer and ordered Johnson to stop. Johnson then fled the scene.

Ronan started to pursue Johnson on foot after the latter failed to comply.

Body camera footage released by LPD shows Ronan ordered Johnson to stop during the pursuit, but he kept running. Johnson can be seen pulling something from his waist area when he finally stops. The officer yells, “You better [sic] stop, drop that” before he fired several shots at Johnson.

“Officer Ronan … observed Johnson with a weapon. Johnson raised and produced the barrel of the weapon despite Ronan’s command to drop the weapon. Officer Ronan then fired his weapon at Johnson,” LPD Chief James Smith wrote in the statement.

Johnson was struck twice in the chest and once in the foot.

His weapon, a Taurus Model 9mm with an empty 12 round capacity magazine, was recovered by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). Seven spent cartridge casings identified as being fired by Johnson were also recovered outside the Lavish Lounge.

OSBI forensic reports show that Johnson’s fingerprint was found on the magazine of his weapon.

The Comanche County District Attorney’s Office refused to comment on this case.

The Epoch Times reached out to OSBI for comments.

Johnson’s mother, Meyoshia Gray, told KFDX-TV that she felt hurt by the ruling.

“Everything, I feel like they said, was a lie,” she said.

Robert West, Johnson’s grandfather, said that Johnson was running for his life and the officer should not have pursued him on foot in the first place.

“We’re going to keep coming at you until y’all fold,” he pledged during an interview with the local media outlet.

The Epoch Times reached out to Michael Washington, a local paralegal and activist who has been working with the Johnson family in the case.

Follow Allen on Twitter: @AllenZM