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Arizona lawmaker wants answers about Dion Johnson’s death

Protesters gather in front of Phoenix City Hall, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Phoenix while protesting the death of George Floyd, Dion Johnson and other subjects of police violence. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX – An Arizona lawmaker has joined in with those seeking answers about the death of Dion Johnson, a black man who was fatally shot by a state trooper on a Phoenix freeway last week.

Rep. Reginald Bolding wrote a letter Monday to Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Col. Heston Silbert seeking more transparency in the case.

Johnson, 28, died May 25, the same day as George Floyd, the Minnesota man whose death while in custody sparked ongoing unrest around the U.S.

Phoenix protesters have been citing Johnson’s name along with Floyd’s during nightly demonstrations opposing police violence against minorities.

A trooper on patrol found Johnson asleep or passed out in a car on the eastbound gore point of Loop 101 in north Phoenix near Tatum Boulevard at around 5:30 a.m. on Memorial Day, according to the Phoenix Police Department, which is investigating the case.

Police said a struggle ensued after the trooper contacted Johnson and the trooper shot Johnson.

Last week, police said a handgun was recovered at the scene. On Wednesday, Phoenix police said the gun had been removed from the vehicle and secured before the trooper made contact with Johnson.

Another trooper arrived and helped get Johnson out of the vehicle, police said. Phoenix Fire responders transported Johnson to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

“To passively dismiss this incident as ‘a struggle’ when it took a man’s life will not be acceptable to me, or the communities I represent,” Bolding, a Democrat who represents south Phoenix and surrounding areas, wrote in his letter to Silbert.

The trooper who shot Johnson is a 54-year-old man with 15 years of service, and he was not injured.

Authorities said the troopers involved in the shooting weren’t equipped with body-worn or dashboard cameras.

“I’m hoping you can explain to me why a trooper would be allowed to patrol a major freeway, on a busy Memorial Day holiday, without the protection of a body camera or dash camera,” Bolding wrote.

“Also please outline any efforts to secure other video footage – from ADOT for example – or witness statements to shed more light on how and why this alleged ‘struggle’ occurred, and why it necessitated deadly force.”

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