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Records show several complaints against trooper who shot Dion Johnson

Protesters hold up signs during a march at Encanto Park in Phoenix on June 7, 2020. (KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)

PHOENIX — Records released Monday showed several complaints against the Department of Public Safety trooper who fatally shot Dion Johnson in late May.

The concise employee history for 54-year-old George Cervantes revealed a total of 13 complaints dating to 2010.

Seven of those complaints were sustained, meaning there was enough evidence to prove a violation had occurred.

One of the sustained complaints resulted in an 80-hour suspension and letter of reprimand for the 15-year veteran of the department.

The June 2012 internal complaint said Cervantes committed multiple violations, including misuse of state property, inefficiency and insubordination.

A November 2011 sustained complaint for a preventable accident resulted in counseling and a PPR (personal performance report).

Cervantes also had sustained complaints for preventable accidents in January 2013, November 2014 and June 2015.

An external complaint filed May 26 — the day after Cervantes shot and killed the 28-year-old Johnson — alleging “conduct adverse to the department or employee” appears to remain open.

DPS said Tuesday an internal investigation into the May shooting was nearing completion. Cervantes remains on administrative leave.

Johnson, a Black man, was killed on May 25 around 5:30 a.m. — the same day George Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis.

Cervantes smelled alcohol and saw beer cans, along with a gun, in Johnson’s vehicle on the side of Loop 101 near Tatum Boulevard in north Phoenix, according to authorities.

After removing the gun and calling for backup, Cervantes noticed Johnson moving around and attempted to arrest him.

A struggle ensued, with Cervantes shooting and killing Johnson, police said.

The Phoenix Police Department, which handled the police investigation, submitted its findings to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office last Tuesday.

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