BOSTON (CSU) — Despite having no proof that the 20-year-old Black man had committed any crimes, a suburban Boston police officer who was following a white suspect kneed the guy in the neck as he walked home, claims a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on Wednesday.
After leaving work in February 2021, Donovan Johnson was only a few minutes from his house when a white officer who had been pursuing a white suspect approached him, drew his gun, and threw him to the snow-covered ground face first, according to the lawsuit brought against the town of Arlington, Massachusetts, and three of its officers.
According to the lawsuit, the officer once put his knee on Johnson’s neck and pinned him to the ground. Johnson allegedly shouted, “I can’t breathe!” but the officer “continued to hold Mr. Johnson to the ground with his knee,” according to the complaint, while the white suspect who had been the target of the police pursuit “was left unattended.”
Police allegedly violated Johnson’s constitutional rights when they stopped him, inspected him, shackled him, and placed him in the back of a cruiser before releasing him without filing any charges, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Boston.
Johnson claimed in an interview that the incident left him emotionally exhausted to the point that he found it difficult to do day-to-day tasks and nearly lost his position as a hospital grants administrator.
Johnson claimed, “I was wrongfully detained and searched simply because he believed I was the person he was looking for.
Police couldn’t comment, according to Julie Flaherty, the chief of the Arlington Police Department, because neither the department nor the municipality had yet received notice of the case.
According to Johnson’s attorneys, an internal inquiry revealed that the cops had broken a number of departmental rules and regulations. Lawyers for Civil Rights’ Mirian Albert, one of Johnson’s attorneys, expressed the hope that the lawsuit will result in institutional changes that would end the department’s use of racial profiling.
“Everyone should feel secure in their own neighbourhoods. The rights of Mr. Johnson were violated in plain sight of his residence, and this is precisely the kind of police misbehaviour that feeds racial tensions between communities of colour and the police, she claimed.
According to the lawsuit, personnel at an Arlington hotel initially phoned the police about a man they had spotted and suspected of having stolen televisions. The white male was “known to police” for “previous criminal conduct,” and when police arrived at the hotel, officer Steven Conroy showed the front desk employee a photo of the individual, who confirmed that it was the same person.
According to the lawsuit, when police entered the room to investigate, the man escaped, and they started pursuing him. Before Conroy approached and yelled at both guys to “get the (expletive) on the floor,” Johnson, who was almost at his Somerville home, saw the man jog by him.
According to the lawsuit, Johnson remained standing as the white suspect knelt. Johnson claims that Conroy then pulled a revolver, knocked him to the ground, and trapped him with a knee to the neck.
The lawsuit claims that when a second officer who had come in a cruiser saw the white man and put him in handcuffs after recognising him, the defendant admitted to the officer that he didn’t know Johnson. According to the complaint, a third officer who arrived “quickly leapt on” Johnson to assist Conroy in holding him down.
According to Johnson’s attorneys, the police had no cause to suspect Johnson was a suspect in any crimes: Johnson and the other man both told police they didn’t know each other, and “nothing in the investigation suggested that there was more than one male suspect involved,” the lawsuit claims. Police had a photo of the white suspect they were seeking for.
According to the complaint, Johnson was let go from the hotel when staff members said they had never seen him before. According to the lawsuit, police abandoned him to find his own way home.
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