FBI to review evidence on DPS trooper-involved shooting that killed Dion Johnson
PHOENIX - Weeks following the death of Dion Johnson in a DPS trooper-involved shooting in the north valley, FBI officials are speaking out about the man's death.
The deadly shooting happened on the morning of May 25, in an area near Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard. In a statement released by Phoenix Police, officials say Johnson, 28, was found parked alongside the freeway by a trooper. When the trooper tried to arrest Johnson, Johnson grabbed onto the trooper through the open driver-side door, resulting in a struggle.
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.
Phoenix Police is overseeing the investigation into the deadly shooting.
FBI releases statement
On a brief statement released on Friday, FBI officials say they, along with the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona and the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, are aware of Johnson's death, and will review all available evidence to determine what Federal response is warranted.
"Experienced prosecutors and agents will be assigned to review the matter for potential federal civil rights violations," a portion of the statement read.
Earlier calls for federal intervention
The announcement came after two state lawmakers and a member of the state's Corporation Commission sent a joint letter to federal officials, asking them to step in and oversee the investigation into Johnson's death.
The letter was addressed to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband and U.S. Attorney for Arizona Michael Bailey, and was signed by State Reps. Reginald Bolding, Dr. Geraldine Peten, and Corporation Commission Sandra Kennedy. In the letter, Kennedy is noted as the state's only African American to be elected to a statewide office, while Bolding and Peten were noted as two of Arizona's three state lawmakers of African American heritage.
"It's impossible to see how handing over the investigation of Dion Johnson's death to one of the deadliest police departments in the country will result in the objectivity and transparency his family, our communities and our constituents are demanding," a portion of the letter read.
Johnson's family have also expressed their desire for a federal investigation.
“Phoenix police officers aren’t willing to do anything on my behalf,” Dion's mother, Irma, told reporters during a news conference. “They haven’t contacted me. I haven’t heard nothing since the day that it happened.”
Johnson's death, along with the death of George Floyd, which happened on the same day, have become rallying points during recent protests over racial issues and police use of force in Phoenix.