PHOENIX - Phoenix Police officials have released more information surrounding the shooting death of Dion Johnson.
The deadly shooting happened on the morning of May 25, in an area near Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard. Johnson, 28, was taken to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Phoenix Police handled the investigation.
On Wednesday night, Sgt. Margaret Cox with Phoenix Police released a statement that revealed more details surrounding the shooting.
Phoenix Police officials release detailed account of incident
According to the statement, a trooper was patrolling in the area when he saw a car parked in the gore point, or the triangular piece of land between the freeway and the onramp or offramp, and creating a traffic hazard. Johnson was found passed out in the driver's seat when the trooper made initial contact.
"The trooper smelled an odor of alcohol, saw beer cans and a gun in the vehicle," read a portion of the statement. The trooper then removed the gun from the car, returned to his motorcycle, and requested backup.
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. During the attempted arrest, Johnson grabbed onto the trooper through the open driver-side door, resulting in an altercation.
"The Trooper was pulled toward the vehicle, while standing adjacent to the eastbound travel lanes of the freeway," read a portion of the statement.
Police officials say the trooper told investigators that during the struggle, he feared he would be pushed into oncoming traffic. 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, striking Johnson, Cox said.
A second trooper who later arrived at the scene helped in removing Johnson from the vehicle. 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.
Family, lawyer speaks out
Earlier on Wednesday, an attorney representing Johnson's family discussed an alleged ADOT video that shows what happened after the shooting. The video has reportedly not been released.
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.”
"When I finally got a chance to look at that video today, I was devastated. I really couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe that someone that supposed to protect and serve would treat a human being the way he treated my son," said Dion Johnson's mother, Irma Johnson. "When he was shot, handcuffed, thrown to the ground -- obviously, because he was in the car when they shot him, and he was on the ground, in the back of the vehicle. He was trying to get up. My son was fighting for his life. He was trying to get up, and the officer kicked him back down. That’s cruel. You don’t see that happen to animals."
"We counted the minutes on how long they sat there, and they sat there for six minutes. Six minutes, while this man was moving around, fighting for his life." said Michael Lambert. "We want answers. Jeri Williams, we want answers. Williams answers. Colonel Heston [Silbert], we want answers. The ball is in your court, and the clock is ticking. You have additional information that will come to light shortly that tops this information. His family deserves police records of what happened. They deserve it yesterday. It happened on Memorial Day. They haven’t even shown a phone call. This is despicable."
In addition, the family's attorney also played audio that he claims is police radio.
"The call starts around 5:35 in the morning, and what the officer calls in is an individual who it was in his vehicle. Passed out, as the officer said, and the officer claims that, from his perspective, he believed that the individual was under the influence of alcohol," said Jocquese Blackwell. "The officer says that he noticed that there were open containers in the vehicle. The officer doesn’t say that he saw a weapon, so if you listen to that audio, he does not say he saw a weapon. Now, based on this audio recording, as it plays, There’s text that corresponds to the officer's statement and dispatch statement. In the text, after the officer states that there is alcohol in the car, there’s, like, a 56-second silence. How we received it: it looks like they cut off that sound, and the next thing you hear is the officer saying shots fired."
Erma Johnson said she wants both officers “charged, arrested, and fired for cruelty to human life.”
Police officials address video claims, politicians demand transparency
In the statement released late Wednesday night, Phoenix Police officials addressed the issue of video related to the deadly shooting, claiming there is no known video that captures the shooting.
In the statement, police officials say there is no dashcam video because both troopers involved in the incident were on motorcycles. The two troopers were also not equipped with body cameras.
In addition, Phoenix Police officials say while there are ADOT cameras on the highway, those are live feed cameras that do not record.
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.