Arizona prosecutor won’t make knee-jerk decision in Dion Johnson case

Jul 10, 2020, 4:05 AM | Updated: Jul 12, 2020, 6:56 am
(KTAR News 92.3 FM Photo/Gabriel Gamiño)...
(KTAR News 92.3 FM Photo/Gabriel Gamiño)
(KTAR News 92.3 FM Photo/Gabriel Gamiño)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel isn’t going to rush to a decision without reviewing all the facts surrounding the shooting of Dion Johnson by law enforcement.

Adel told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Thursday that while she understands both the community and law enforcement’s need for answers, she won’t make a knee-jerk decision for the sake of a finding a speedy resolution to the case.

“I don’t take these decisions lightly, so as far as a timeline, yes, we are expediting it,” Adel said. “Normally these take 9-10 months, and I know it needs to be expedited, I know the community wants an answer. I know that our civilians and our officers, everyone wants an answer to this, but I will not take this decision lightly.”

Johnson, 28, was killed after being shot by an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper on May 25 around 5:30 a.m. — the same day George Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis.

Police said Johnson was found passed out in the driver’s seat of a vehicle causing a traffic hazard near Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard.

The trooper involved smelled alcohol and saw beer cans, along with a gun, in Johnson’s vehicle, according to authorities. After removing the gun and calling for backup, the officer noticed Johnson moving around and attempted to arrest him. A struggle ensued, with the trooper shooting and killing Johnson, police said.

The trooper, later identified by DPS as 54-year-old George Cervantes, has 15 years of service time and is currently on administrative leave.

Adel said she received the police reports of the incident Wednesday and is reviewing them along with a critical incident review committee made up of lawyers, non lawyers, investigators and a civilian.

The committee will review the case and make a recommendation to the county attorney to ultimately decide charges.

“Both sides of the aisle on this, everybody needs answers, everybody wants answers right now,” Adel said. “But I can tell you I won’t have a knee-jerk reaction to this. I want all the facts and that we take a measured approach to this because again, law enforcement, our community, we all need to make sure we’re going forward with this in the right way and the way that makes sense.

“I can assure everyone that I am being very thoughtful and deliberate about this and we will have an answer at some point.”

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Arizona prosecutor won’t make knee-jerk decision in Dion Johnson case