June 18, 1997
April 4, 2015
Age at Death:
Justus Howell was from Waukegan, Illinois. He was born to his parents, Derell (deceased) and LaToya Howell. Mr. Howell is said to have had big dreams and a big heart. He was a junior in high school.
Mr. Howell was killed in 2015 during a foot chase involving a Zion police officer who suspected Mr. Howell of stealing a gun. Police say they were responding to shots fired.
A home security caught the chase - it does not validate police claims of a) the presence of a gun in Mr. Howell's hand or b) that Mr. Howell posed a lethal threat. The officer said he feared for his safety after the teen turned slightly toward him, aiming a gun at him - this is not confirmed in the video. In face, reviewing the video it looks like he is just running full speed. Mr. Howell was unarmed, and according to his family, posed no threat as the video proved. However, police have testimony from another young man who said he met Mr. Howell to sell him a gun, Mr .Howell tried to take the gun without paying and the gun misfired. When the two heard approaching police sirens, fled with Mr. Howell holding the gun. The autopsy revealed Mr. Howell was shot in the back - consistent with reports he was fleeing away from police, posing no threat.
Was justice served?
No. A jury rejected the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Howell family in 2016 against the officer and the city of Zion. As of June, 2020, the family and their attorney continue to demand a new grand jury to review the case, because the video shows Mr. Howell posed no lethal threat. No fingerprints or DNA from Mr. Howell were found on the alleged weapon. No photos of the body post-death were taken at the crime scene. Witnesses have conflicting statements on if Mr. Howell had a weapon.