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Maricopa County Attorney's Office releases new evidence in Dion Johnson officer-involved shooting case

Johnson was killed the same day as George Floyd, Memorial Day 2020, and was at the center of protests in the Valley last summer.

PHOENIX — Newly released crime scene photos, officer interviews, body camera footage and past records are all things the Maricopa County Attorney's Office had to weigh in before deciding not to file criminal charges against the DPS trooper police say killed Dion Johnson last year.

Johnson was killed the same day as George Floyd, Memorial Day 2020, and was at the center of protests in the Valley. 

Trooper George Cervantes told police he found Johnson passed out drunk in his car, blocking part of the highway near Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard shortly after 5:30 a.m. 

When Cervantes went up to the driver's side window, he said he saw open containers of alcohol and a gun in the suspect’s car. 

Cervantes tells investigators he removed the gun and went to arrest Johnson for a DUI and when Johnson woke up he tried to fight back. 

Cervantes said he feared he'd be pushed into traffic, so he fired his weapon twice.

At the time DPS didn’t have body cameras for any of their troopers, but ADOT had traffic cameras and responding officers from other departments had body cameras that captured the moments after the shooting. 

In the newly released evidence, a Scottsdale police officer's body camera footage shows Cervantes and another responding trooper rendering aid to Dion Johnson.  

You can hear Cervantes tell the Scottsdale Officer he fired two shots and the second one must have "grazed" Johnson.

The records include additional details about Johnson’s prior arrests, including allegations of fights with his family and assaulting an ex-girlfriend.  

He also served prison time for armed robbery and aggravated assault. Johnson was also listed as a known gang member. 

At the time of the shooting, he had a misdemeanor warrant out for his arrest. Records say Cervantes didn’t know who Johnson was or his history before the shooting.

Johnson’s family initially questioned the response time to get him help. ADOT video shows an ambulance waiting for at least two minutes before going into the scene.

New records reveal it took about 20 minutes for Phoenix Fire paramedics to get to the scene to then ultimately get Johnson to the hospital. The paramedics had to wait until the scene was secure before going in to help Johnson, which is in line with their protocol.

As a trooper, Cervantes has his own record with DPS. In his 15 years with the department, documents show there were thirteen complaints filed against him. Some were unfounded, but he was disciplined for others, like using his DPS taser on his family’s dog.

In September, County Attorney Allister Adel announced her office wasn't pursuing criminal charges against Cervantes.  As of October, an internal DPS investigation was still ongoing.

On Monday, DPS refused to tell 12 News whether their internal investigation into Cervantes was still going on. All a public information officer could say was that Cervantes was still a DPS employee.

12 News also tried to reach the Johnson family's new attorney but never heard back.

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