LA MESA, California – A former La Mesa police officer has been acquitted of falsifying a police report Friday in connection with the arrest of a young man near the Grossmont transit center last year.
Matthew Daggs was accused of lying about the grounds for the arrest of Amorie Johnson on May 27, 2020, which sparked protests in the Argean county when the arrest video was spread by a virus.
Dages, who is white, was fired by the La Mesa police station months after his arrest. He could face up to three years in prison if convicted. El Cajon jurors debated for more than a day before the verdict could be overturned.
Prosecutors allege that Daiges lied in his report when he wrote that he saw Johnson smoking while missing a trolleybus fare in the “toll zone” and “then” became militant when their meeting escalated into a dispute.
Dages said he told Johnson he was not allowed to smoke in the area, then asked if Johnson lived in a nearby apartment complex. Although Johnson initially said he lived there, he later admitted that he was waiting for friends to pick him up.
Prosecutors said the collaboration turned into an argument when Daggs did not allow Johnson to leave the scene when his friends arrived.
Videos of the incident show Daggs pushing Johnson into a sitting position, pushing him down again after Johnson got up. Daggs claimed in his report that Johnson had punched him and taken a “dead position” against him, which prosecutors and Johnson disputed.
Daggs testified that from his point of view, it seemed that Johnson was putting a smoking device in his mouth. No lighter, cigarette or other smoking utensils were ever found in his possession.
Johnson was eventually arrested on suspicion of assaulting an officer, resisting, delaying, obstructing an officer, and was released on a misdemeanor charge.
The police later said they would not press charges against Johnson, who filed a federal lawsuit against La Mesa in Dages.
Johnson was arrested in Minneapolis two days after George Floyd’s death, and a few days after his arrest, a protest at La Mesa police headquarters turned into a looting riot after dark.
Prosecutors allege that Dages was fueled by the ongoing tensions over the video of Johnson’s arrest on social media, justifying his report to justify the arrest and the use of force.
According to testimony, Dages ordered his superiors to review the report several times, which, according to Dages’s lawyers, strengthened the authenticity of the report.
In a statement, San Diego District Attorney Samer Stefan said: “I want to thank the jurors for taking the time to discuss this case. While I respect the verdict of the jurors, I am proud that my team fought valiantly for justice, without prejudice or against. kindness to someone.
“The integrity of our criminal justice system depends on the fact that the police present true police reports. Our thorough examination of the facts and evidence has led us to prosecute and present the case to jurors. The community can be comforted to know that the vast majority of our district police officers serve with honor and uphold the law while doing the hard work of keeping our communities safe. ”
– City press service