Maricopa County lawyer to find out whether or not to cost trooper accused of killing Dion Johnson

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Maricopa County attorney to determine whether to charge trooper accused of killing Dion Johnson

Dion Johnson was shot and killed by a DPS trooper on Memorial Day on the Loop 101. His death, along with the death of George Floyd, sparked protests in Phoenix.

PHOENIX — Editor’s note: The above video is from a June 12 newscast.

The Phoenix Police Department submitted its investigation into the death of Dion Johnson to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office on Tuesday. 

The office will now decide whether to charge the still unidentified Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper who shot and killed Johnson on Memorial Day.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Liewer said in an email to 12 News that the officer received a submittal from the department in Johnson’s death late Tuesday. 

“There is no timeline for a charging decision but the county attorney has asked staff to prioritize a review of this case,” she continued. 

“A review of the case is currently underway and there is not a timeline for a decision.”

Phoenix Police, who took over the death investigation, said a trooper found Johnson passed out drunk in his parked car, blocking part of the road near Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard.

It is standard procedure for Phoenix police to handle the investigation when a trooper-involved shooting happens in Phoenix, according to DPS Director Col. Heston Silbert.

RELATED: ‘You were my everything’: Funeral held for man killed by DPS Trooper; DOJ to review case

Police say the DPS trooper removed a gun he saw in the car. 

When he went to arrest Johnson, police say Johnson reached through the window and grabbed at the trooper and his gun, which ultimately led to the trooper shooting Johnson.

None of the shooting was captured on video. The responding troopers did not have body cameras or dash cameras, as the trooper was on a motorcycle. 

DPS does not issue any body-worn cameras to troopers, but funding for cameras is in next year’s budget proposal.

But the moments after Johnson was shot were captured on camera, while he is on the ground.

“What you see in the video is Dion Johnson, on the ground, handcuffed and suffering,” Jocquese Blackwell, Johnson’s family attorney, said in June.

This video from an Arizona Department of Transportation feed recorded by another news outlet appears to show Johnson on the ground, restrained and moving after he was shot.

Then the video appears to show a trooper trying to apply aid while an ambulance stages nearby for at least two minutes.

Phoenix Police told 12 News in June that, in general, a scene needs to be cleared by law enforcement before other first responders can go in.

RELATED: ADOT feed video shows moments after Dion Johnson was shot by DPS Trooper

Last month, multiple elected officials in Arizona asked the U.S. Justice Department to take over an independent investigation in the shooting death of Johnson.

In a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband and United States Attorney for Arizona Michael Bailey, the Arizona officials said the Phoenix Police Department should not be handling the investigation. 

“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,” the letter read in part.

The letter was signed by Reginald Bolding Jr., Democratic Whip of the Arizona House of Representatives; Dr. Geraldine Peten of the Arizona House of Representatives and Arizona Commissioner Sandra D. Kennedy.

Protests in Phoenix in weeks after Johnson’s death centered around Johnson, as well as George Floyd, who was killed on the same day in Minneapolis, sparking protests worldwide over racial injustice and police brutality.

RELATED: Hundreds protest deaths of Dion Johnson, George Floyd in Phoenix on final night of curfew