The anger and frustration in America over racism, police brutality, injustice and unfair politics has reached a boiling point.
The murder of a Black man, George Floyd, by four Minnesota police officers on May 25 tipped off a wave of protests in American cities and towns. The Americans who are participating in these protests are calling for the arrest and prosecution all officers involved in Floyd’s death, along with an end to systemic racism and police brutality.
Closer to home in Phoenix, the Black community is reeling from the fatal shooting of Dion Johnson, a 28-year-old Black man by a law enforcement officer.
The details on his shooting were released to the public in an unusually slow fashion. In fact, PhxSoul.com was not even aware of Johnson’s death until May 27. Many Valley residents still had not seen much news coverage about the shooting until a protest was held at Eastlake Park in Phoenix on May 29.
Here’s what we know about the Dion Johnson shooting (directly from the Phoenix Police Department and the Arizona Department of Public Safety) …
On May 25, at about 5:36 a.m., a Department of Public Safety Trooper was patrolling the area of the State Route 101 and Tatum Boulevard in Phoenix when he observed a vehicle parked on the eastbound gore point, partially blocking traffic. The trooper observed Johnson passed out in the driver’s seat. According to the law enforcement report, during the trooper’s contact with Johnson there was a struggle and the trooper fired his service weapon striking the suspect.
A second DPS trooper arrived on scene and assisted removing Johnson from his vehicle. Phoenix Fire personnel responded and transported Johnson to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced deceased. Phoenix Police confirmed that a handgun was recovered from the scene, but there were no reported injuries to the DPS troopers involved in this incident.Phoenix Police Department
In this day of social media, camera phones and other technologies, the community would expect that the Department of Public Safety Troopers would be wearing a body camera (or a possible witness would have turned on a camera phone) so we could see exactly how the incident occurred.
However, Phoenix police spokeswoman Sgt. Maggie Cox said the involved DPS motor troopers were not equipped with body worn or dash cameras and there is no other known video capturing the incident.
Arizona Department of Public Safety Sergeant Kameron Lee said that Arizona Department of Transportation cameras are live feed cameras that do not record.
The criminal investigation portion of this case is being handled by the Phoenix Police Department and is ongoing. The 54-year-old trooper who shot Johnson is on administrative leave, which is standard for a trooper-involved shooting. He has 15 years of service with the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
The fact that there is no camera footage (unlike George Floyd’s case) has left many local residents and media wanting more information about this case.
How does a man who is passed out in his car on the highway end up dead a few minutes later because of a struggle but there were no reported injuries to the DPS troopers?
How do TWO DPS officers get away with NOT having their body cameras on during a traffic stop?
While we recognize that law enforcement officers do a dangerous job every single day, we have to wonder why non-lethal weapons are NOT used more often?
There are many unanswered questions about this case and we want to assure the public that PhxSoul.com will continue to pursue all of the facts.
If anyone was in the area of the 101 & Tatum early on May 25 and saw Johnson’s vehicle in the gore point or anything related to the struggle between the DPS Trooper and Johnson, please call the Phoenix Police Department’s Violent Crimes Bureau at (602) 262-6141.
Video from Dion Johnson Tribute/Protest at Eastlake Park in Phoenix
While we do not have all of the answers yet about Johnson’s shooting death on an Arizona highway on May 25, we do know that he was loved by many family members and friends.
See our footage of the Dion Johnson Tribute and Protest which took place on May 29 at Eastlake Park in Phoenix.