PHOENIX (3TV/CBS/AP) -- "How dare they let him die!" Community leaders and family members are demanding answers in the death of Dion Johnson, who was shot by a DPS trooper near Loop 101 and Tatum last week. And they are asking the investigation be taken to the highest levels of government.

During a news conference Friday, the lawyer for Johnson's family says they want transparency and accountability from the police who are investigating the shooting that led to Johnson's death. 

Video from an Arizona Department of Transportation camera shows the moments after the 28-year-old Johnson was killed on Memorial Day. The video does not show the actual shooting, but does show Dion behind his car. Two DPS troopers are with him. One of the troopers appears to be next to Dion while another trooper is standing over him.

Now, Arizona State Rep. Reginald Bolding says that although the investigation has been turned over to Phoenix police, he wonders, "Is the Phoenix Police Department an appropriate agency to run the investigation into an officer-involved shooting?"

Bolding says he has written a letter asking the U.S. Department of Justice to step in and investigate. It asks that "the actions of these troopers need to be thoroughly and independently investigated." Along with Bolding, the letter is also signed by Rep. Dr. Geraldine Peten and Arizona Commissioner Sandra D. Kennedy. “We believe the actions of these troopers must be looked into. There must be a true external investigation,” Bolden said.

[READ LETTER HERE]

Johnson's mother says the family also wants to take the investigation to a higher level. Erma Johnson wants the FBI to look into the incident. In a brief but powerful statement Friday, Johnson's mother said this is something no mother should have to endure. "This hurts worse and worse," she said. "I can't eat, I can't sleep, and I have nightmares." 

"I was devastated," she said about getting the news that her son had been shot and killed. "What more can I do than to ask and get justice for my family, for my son." 

“Phoenix police officers aren’t willing to do anything on my behalf,” Erma told reporters. “They haven’t contacted me. I haven’t heard nothing since the day that it happened.”

Other relatives of Johnson also spoke out, saying they want to know exactly what happened, and to see the police report. "We're tired of this. We want answers." Family members say they are particularly bothered that Johnson was deprived of emergency medical aid for several minutes after he was shot and cuffed.

Investigators have not released the names of the troopers involved. And police have said there is no body camera footage or dash-cam video available from this shooting. 

Rep. Bolding had also previously written a letter to DPS Col. Heston Silbert, asking for more information about this shooting. Bolding wants the governor and fellow lawmakers to approve police reform that would require all officers in Arizona to wear body cameras. 

The shooting occurred on Monday, May 25, around 5:30 a.m. at the Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard.

Phoenix police say a trooper was in the area of the Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard when he saw a car parked in the gore point, partially blocking traffic. The trooper saw Dion "passed out" in the vehicle. Below is Phoenix Police's entire updated information as of Wednesday evening:

We want to share updated information regarding the Trooper-Involved Shooting which occurred May 25, 2020 at the Loop 101 and Tatum Blvd. Please keep in mind, because this is an ongoing investigation there is limited information we can provide.

Many of you have asked about releasing the video footage related to this incident. At this point in the investigation, there is no known video capturing the shooting. Neither of the troopers were equipped with body-worn cameras. There is no dash-camera video because both troopers were on motorcycles. The ADOT highway cameras are live feed camera that do not record.

Here is the information we have. The Trooper was patrolling in the area of the State Route 101 and Tatum Boulevard when he observed a vehicle parked in the gore point and creating a traffic hazard. During the Trooper’s initial contact with Mr. Johnson, he found him passed out in the drivers’ seat. The Trooper smelled an odor of alcohol, saw beer cans and a gun in the vehicle. The Trooper removed the gun from the vehicle, returned back to his motorcycle. secured the gun, and then requested a backup. At this point, he noticed Mr. Johnson moving around so he returned to the vehicle and attempted to arrest Mr. Johnson for suspicion of driving impaired. During the attempted arrest, Mr. Johnson grabbed onto the Trooper through the open driver’s side door and an altercation occurred. The Trooper was pulled toward the vehicle, while standing adjacent to the eastbound travel lanes of the freeway. During this struggle, the Trooper told investigators he feared he would be pushed into oncoming traffic, so he drew his weapon and issued commands. Mr. Johnson began to comply but as the Trooper was holstering his gun, Mr. Johnson reached for the gun and a second altercation ensued. The Trooper fearing for his life then fired his service weapon striking Mr. Johnson. A second Trooper arrived after the shooting and assisted in removing Mr. Johnson from the vehicle.

Once the investigation is complete, it will be submitted to the Critical Incident Review Board of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

 

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