North Texas

Fort Worth Police Officer on Trial for Shooting Man Holding a Barbecue Fork

A rare case is playing out in Tarrant County this week, where a jury has to decide if an officer-involved shooting was reckless or an accident. It's the first time a police officer has stood trial in Tarrant County for shooting someone while on duty in at least 15 years.

Fort Worth Police Officer Courtney Johnson shot Craigory Adams in the arm with a shotgun in 2015, after Adams had dropped to his knee while holding a large barbecue fork.

Defense attorneys are trying to prove that Johnson didn't intentionally pull the trigger and that the gun may have malfunctioned, firing itself.

The jury got a look at the officer's shotgun in court Wednesday. Prosecutors say they've run several tests and haven't been able to find anything mechanically wrong with it.

The shooting happened in front of Adams's parents' house on the near south side of Fort Worth. Johnson had been dispatched to a call of someone banging on a neighbor's door with a knife, though it turned out to be a barbecue fork.

Dash camera video shows Adams dropping the fork and dropping to one knee. A few seconds later, Johnson shot him, then rushed to help.

The jury heard Johnson's own words in an emotional interview recorded shortly after the shooting. He said he was nervous because although Adams dropped what Johnson thought was a knife, it was still right in front of him and Adams wasn't following commands to turn away from it.

Johnson said he racked the shotgun in warning but never pulled the trigger, when it fired.

"I was startled," Johnson said in the recording. "I was very surprised that that happened. My finger was not on the trigger. I know my finger was not on the trigger. The shot came out, and it startled me. It caught me by surprise."

Johnson still works for the Fort Worth Police Department on desk duty but not in uniform. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

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