Demetris Johnson made headlines in 2011 when he was 16-years-old. That’s when prosecutors charged him as an adult with shooting a man to death in a parking lot near his home. A jury later acquitted him.
As an adult, Johnson continued to rack up cases. He was convicted of illegal gun possession twice in 2015. And he just became the fifth person charged with killing or shooting someone in Chicago this year while on bail for a serious felony case.
Johnson was on bail and was wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet for pending armed habitual criminal and escape cases when he shot and killed Gino Dameron, age 26, last Wednesday in the 3500 block of South Cottage Grove, prosecutors said.
Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said Johnson’s mother called police to their apartment in the complex because her 27-year-old son had a gun and was experiencing a mental episode around 3:45 p.m. January 27.
Another caller reported hearing gunshots in the building and security officers found Dameron, a friend of Johnson’s, dead in an elevator with multiple gunshot wounds, Murphy said.
According to Murphy, surveillance video shows Johnson with a gun in the building lobby before the shooting and carrying a gun in a stairwell after the shooting. Cameras also captured footage of Johnson running out the back of the building as police arrived, he said.
While police were investigating the murder, they received a tip that the killer had boarded a southbound CTA bus on Cottage Grove and had just exited at 46th Street, according to a CPD report.
Cops went there and started looking for the shooter, who was seen on video wearing a blue jacket and white pants with a blue stripe on the side. They located Johnson wearing identical clothing, police records say.
A security guard from the apartment building allegedly identified Johnson as the man who fled from the murder scene with a handgun-like bulge under his clothes. Tests for gunpowder on Johnson’s hands game back positive, Muphy said.
His mother told police Johnson was hearing voices, but she has not been cooperating with the police investigation, according to Murphy.
Police said Johnson was wearing a Cook County Sheriff’s Office electronic monitoring ankle bracelet at the time of his arrest.
According to prosecutors, Johnson was on electronic monitoring for a pending gun-case even though he escaped from electronic monitoring once before while on bail in the matter.
Defense attorney David Gaeger said Johnson has been hospitalized for psychiatric care in the past and had a relapse before the murder.
“There’s no indication that there was necessarily malice toward the victim,” Judge Mary Marubio said after hearing the allegations. But, she noted, “the randomness makes it incredibly difficult to fashion conditions to protect the public.”
She then ordered Johnson held without bail.
His already-pending felony charges stem from a traffic stop in the Washington Heights neighborhood on April 29, 2018.
In that case, police said the car came to a stop, and Johnson bolted from the passenger seat while holding his waistband. Cops chased him and walked him back to the car, where they allegedly found a loaded ammunition magazine lying next to the vehicle. Officers called a fire department truck to the scene so they could use a ladder to look on the roof of a building that Johnson ran next to. A fireman found a handgun on the roof, police said.
The gun had one bullet in the chamber, but no magazine, according to a CPD report. The magazine found next to the car not only fit the rooftop gun, but its bullets were identical to the one found in the weapon’s chamber, according to police.
Prosecutors charged Johnson with Class X armed habitual criminal, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon with a previous gun conviction, and failure to register as a gun offender.
He got out of jail on electronic monitoring by posting a $3,000 deposit bond. Prosecutors charged him with escape after he failed to show up in court in September 2019, and a judge ordered him held without bail.
But another judge reduced bail in June 2020 and allowed Johnson to go home on electronic monitoring after his aunt posted a $20,000 bond, records show.
Johnson failed to show up again on October 6. He was located and brought in front of Judge Joan O’Brien. She released him on electronic monitoring again.
According to a contemporaneous Chicago Tribune report, in January 2011, prosecutors charged Johnson in adult court with killing 23-year-old Zohntill Lemon on a parking lot in the 3500 block of South Lake Park.
When police arrested him in that case, he was already in the county’s juvenile detention facility on charges of aggravated battery to a school official at Dunbar High School, the Tribune reported in 2011.
- At least 32 people charged with murder in Chicago last year were free on bail at the time of the killings (January 4, 2021)
- We find another man accused of committing murder while on affordable bail in 2020 (January 9, 2021)
- #1: 16-year-old charged with shooting man during robbery while awaiting trial for felony (January 12, 2021)
- #2: Man fatally shot girlfriend while on electronic monitoring for November gun case, prosecutors say (January 20, 2021)
- #3: On bail for 3 separate felony cases, “fanged” man now charged with killing 12-year-old in DUI crash (January 23, 2021)
- #4: Man on affordable bail for his 3rd felony gun case is charged with weekend murder (January 28, 2021)