State Trooper Who Killed Dion Johnson on Paid Administrative Leave as Prosecutors Review Case

State Trooper Who Killed Dion Johnson on Paid Administrative Leave as Prosecutors Review Case

By Alicia Barrón

July 10, 2020

Johnson was killed by a state trooper the same day a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office received findings from the Phoenix Police Department’s investigation into the fatal freeway-side shooting of a Black man by an Arizona state trooper over Memorial Day weekend. 

Protesters had been calling attention to the death of 28-year-old Dion Johnson on May 25. He was shot by an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer during a roadside struggle by the side of the freeway. 

Johnson was initially found by the trooper asleep behind the wheel of his parked car alongside Loop 101 near Tatum Boulevard.

The trooper, who has been identified as George Cervantes, said he was trying to arrest Johnson for driving while intoxicated. He said he opened fire after Johnson allegedly tried to grab his gun during a struggle.

Cervantes has been on paid administrative leave since the incident occurred.

Police also say that the trooper removed a gun from Johnson’s car while he was still “asleep or passed out.”

“The Phoenix Police Department made no recommendations regarding potential charges,” Jennifer Liewer, County Attorney’s Office spokesperson told KNXV. “They typically do not make suggestions in the submittals of officer-involved shootings.”

Now the County Attorney’s Office will review the findings to determine whether to file criminal charges against Cervantes. 

County Attorney Allister Adel asked her staff to prioritize the case, although Liewer told KPNX there is no timeline for a charging decision.

The trooper involved in the fatal shooting was reportedly not wearing a body camera. There is also no dashcam footage available because the trooper was riding a motorcycle.

Johnson died the same day a police officer in Minneapolis held his knee to George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, killing him and sparking nationwide protests against racial inequality.

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