- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2020

PHOENIX (AP) - Video shows at least four minutes passed before paramedics could provide medical assistance to an unarmed man fatally shot last week by an Arizona state trooper, drawing outrage from his family.

“My son was fighting for his life. He was trying to get up and the officer kicked him back down,” Erma Johnson, the mother of Dion Johnson, told reporters Wednesday.

She said she wondered if her son, 28, would still be alive if the paramedics had been allowed to treat her son more quickly. The video shows other police officers swarming the area where he was shot while the parmedics do not approach despite being nearby in their vehicles.

Johnson died on May 25, the same day that George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis. The Arizona Department of Public Safety has said that the trooper and Johnson had been struggling for control of the trooper’s gun.

After Johnson’s mother spoke with reporters, more details about the events leading to Johnson’s death were made public by Phoenix police investigating the shooting.



The trooper, who was on a motorcycle, noticed a car stopped on a freeway on-ramp in north Phoenix at about 5:30 a.m. He said he saw Johnson passed out in the driver’s seat along with open beer cans and a gun inside the car.

The trooper took the gun out of the car and then tried to arrest Johnson for driving while intoxicated, said Phoenix Police Sgt. Maggie Cox.

But the trooper told investigators that Johnson grabbed him, leading to a struggle. The trooper took out his gun and ordered Johnson to follow his commands. Johnson did so until the trooper was putting his gun back into the holster, when Johnson grabbed for it and the trooper opened fire, Cox said.

A second trooper on a motorcycle arrived but the two officers, who have not been identified, did not have body cameras on them and their motorcycles were not outfitted with dash-cam video.

Video recorded by AZFamily.com from a Department of Public Safety traffic camera, however, captured the moments right after the shooting. The nearly six-minute clip shows two motorcycle troopers from a distance standing behind a vehicle. As Johnson lies on the ground handcuffed, one of the troopers then uses his foot to kick or nudge Johnson.

The camera pans back, revealing a Phoenix Fire Department ambulance stopped a short distance away. Four minutes later, the video shows the vehicle head toward the spot where Johnson is on the ground.

Jocquese Blackwell, the family’s attorney, questioned how a man who was sleeping in his car and was disarmed can end up dead.

“The question the family has is why do we time and time again find ourselves in situations when another unarmed black man or black woman is killed by an individual who has volunteered to protect and serve?” Blackwell said. “The family deserves answers. The nation deserves answers.”

Blackwell also said the family is suspicious of a three-minute YouTube video of Department of Pubic Safety audio of the incident that is missing 56 seconds of the event.

The audio starts with the trooper reporting finding someone passed out and also includes a person yelling “shots fired, start fire.” A person who is apparently a dispatcher responds that paramedics have been called.

The trooper who shot Johnson is on paid administrative leave.

Democratic state Rep. Reginald Bolding is among those demanding more transparency in the case and sent a letter to the public safety department.

When asked at a news conference Thursday why the trooper’s name hasn’t been released, DPS director Col. Heston Silbert, said due diligence must be maintained for the criminal and internal investigations going on. He also had no answers for why paramedics were kept at bay for several minutes.

Silbert has not spoken to any of Johnson’s family but he has been in communication with a representative for them.

“I’m sorry for their loss. Any untimely death is tragic. All of us at our agency feel that same thing,” Silbert said.

Erma Johnson said she wants both officers “charged, arrested, and fired for cruelty to human life.”

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