State Representative Reginald Bolding, Jr. announced during a news conference Friday afternoon that he and other local leaders have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice asking for the DOJ to review the shooting death of Dion Johnson.
Dion Johnson was shot and killed by a DPS trooper on Memorial Day of 2020, after what was described as a “struggle” between Johnson and the trooper. The trooper said he found Johnson asleep in a vehicle along the Loop 101 before making contact with him. The trooper involved told dispatch that he smelled an obvious odor of alcohol on Johnson when he arrived on scene.
You can watch Friday’s press conference in the player below.
The criminal investigation portion of the incident has been turned over to the Phoenix Police Department to review.
Bolding Jr, however, said in a letter to the DOJ that he along with State Representative Dr. Geraldine Peten, Commissioner Sandra Kennedy and the family of Johnson, feel that the Phoenix Police Department’s number of officer-involved-shootings in recent years makes it inappropriate for the department to investigate another local agency’s shooting.
The letter reads in part:
“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. Phoenix Police had the highest number of officer-involved shootings of any department in the country last year with 44.
Because of the current distrust between communities of color and local law enforcement in Arizona over issues of police brutality and racial profiling, and because of the potential civil rights implications of this incident, we respectfully request that the Department of Justice step in to oversee this investigation. We make this request in consultation with Mr. Johnson's family, and in our capacities as elected officials – Arizona's only African American statewide elected official, and two of Arizona's three African American state legislators.”
Bolding Jr went on to say at the press conference that Arizona Department of Transportation video of the scene showed Johnson handcuffed, on the ground, for several minutes as an ambulance sat nearby, not rendering any aid to Johnson as he died.
DPS said that none of the troopers involved had body camera video or dash cam video of the incident.
Neither DPS nor the Phoenix Police Department have released the name of the trooper involved in the incident.
To read the full letter sent to the Department of Justice, CLICK HERE.