Dion Johnson may be the George Floyd of Arizona.
Mr. Johnson was shot by a Department of Public Safety Trooper on the 101 and Tatum Freeway. The trooper reported that a struggle ensued with Mr. Johnson after he was woken up in his car (the deceased had apparently pulled to the side of the freeway to take a nap) and he was forced to use his weapon.
Phoenix Police has launched an investigation.
Vigils for Mr. Johnson have been held.
People like Mr. Johnson’s family and State Representative Reginald Bolding want answers.
In a June 1, 2020 letter to Colonel Heston Silbert at the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the LD 27 Democratic Whip asked:
“I’m hoping you can explain to me why a trooper would be allowed to patrol a major freeway, on a busy Memorial Day holiday, without the protection of a body camera or dash camera. Also please outline any efforts to secure other video footage – from ADOT for example — or witness statements to shed more light on how and why this alleged “struggle” occurred, and why it necessitated deadly force.”
“I am respectfully asking you for answers and for transparency. It seems clear that Mr. Johnson’s past legal troubles have been provided or leaked to the media – whether relevant to this case or not. Why then does the public not yet know the name of the officer-involved or his or her record with the Department?”
Bolding finished his letter by writing:
“As I’m sure you know, the distrust between communities of color and law enforcement agencies in Arizona has been widened and amplified not only by the alleged murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, but also by a number of recent officer-involved shootings and other incidents here at home. To passively dismiss this incident as “a struggle” when it took a man’s life will not be acceptable to me, or the communities I represent.”
“Again, I am respectfully asking for your help and for basic transparency, as this investigation moves forward.”
Please click below to access the whole letter,
Later in an interview with Perry Vandell of AZ Central, Representative Bolding expanded his thoughts, commenting:
“We need to have body-worn cameras on all law enforcement officers. That has been something that’s been agreed upon by law enforcement, by mayors, by legislators. And if there is agreement then we have to actually act.”
“I have two daughters. And if there’s no consequences for anything that they do, then why would they change their behavior? And for police officers, there has not been any consequences. The worst that can happen when you kill someone is that you lose your job. And that’s not the reality for any other profession in this country.”
“I think for a lot of people who are out there protesting, they just don’t know what to do next. They’re exhausted, they’re tired, they’re fearful, they’re hurt, they’re angry. And hopefully through leadership — whether it’s elected leadership or community organization leadership — we can work with people in the community to talk about policy change.”
Representative Bolding is right.
It has been hard enough (think Rodney King; remember Eric Garner as well as George Floyd) to hold corrupt and overzealous law enforcement officials to account when they are on video committing criminal acts.
Unfortunately, there will always be a doubt whether the trooper had cause (even if he did) to shoot Dion Johnson.
The trooper has no one to blame but himself for that. He should be fired for not following procedure. He should go to jail if it is found that he shot Mr. Johnson without cause.
There is no reason for any law enforcement official not to have their body cameras on.
The people need to know they can trust all the individuals that are pledged to “protect and serve” them.
Hopefully, as Mr. Bolding suggested to AZ Central, “we can work with people in the community to talk about policy change.”