Illinois judge calls Tank Johnson a coward

The man who shot and killed Tank Johnson’s friend and bodyguard Willie Posey was sentenced to 55 years behind bars today by an Illinois judge, but the harshest words in court were reserved for Johnson, the Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle who played for the Chicago Bears at the time of the slaying.

Circuit Judge Joseph Claps put reputed gang member Michael Selvie in prison, but hammered Johnson for his behavior on in the early morning hours of Dec. 16, 2006, at Ice Bar in Chicago.

“Mr. Johnson has to live with his behavior that night, his failure to render aid to a person he described as his best friend ... his cowardice and his attempts at self-preservation," Claps said, according to Matthew Walberg of the Chicago Tribune.

Johnson and Posey were out that night and the story was they were determining a place for Posey to live. Posey had been living in the basement of Johnson’s Gurnee, Ill., home at the time there was a SWAT team raid on the house. Weapons were seized and the Bears made it clear to Johnson that Posey, a convicted felon, had to be out of his life, or at the minimum out of his home. Johnson and Selvie scuffled and it was Posey who took a bullet. Johnson initially lied to police and said he wasn’t present at the shooting. He later said he did so because he was worried about being released by the Bears.

Selvie, 37, is a career criminal who will be an old man if and when he ever gets out of jail. Johnson was disciplined by the Bears but played in the postseason. He did his own stint in jail on a weapons violation and scores of team employees visited him as the Bears made a point of proving they were working to bring the former second-round draft pick around. He was released before training camp in 2007 after he was charged with drunken driving in Arizona. Johnson was not convicted.

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