This weekend, protests were held nationwide protesting police violence in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police. Unfortunately, another black life has been added to the list of those taken by law enforcement.
AZ Family reports that Dion Johnson, a 28-year-old black man, was shot by a state trooper. The trooper noticed Johnson’s car was parked in the gore point off the Loop 101 freeway and was partially blocking traffic. The trooper found Johnson asleep in the driver’s seat. According to the officer, a struggle ensued that resulted in him firing his weapon at Johnson. A second officer arrived at the scene and helped remove Johnson from the car. Johnson was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. On Friday, Sgt. Maggie Cox, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said that there is no footage of the shooting as the officer wasn’t wearing a body camera at the time. The identity of the officer has yet to be revealed, but he is reportedly a 15-year veteran of the force.
Protests took place in downtown Phoenix over the weekend in response to both Johnson’s death and the death of George Floyd that happened during the same week. Protestors are demanding more information be released surrounding Johnson’s death. Johnson’s mother, Erma, has questions about what led to her son’s death. “I want to know where was his body camera? I want to know why did he not call for backup? If he was so threatened, why didn’t he call for some backup? It’s a lot of questions that are unanswered. It’s a lot of things that I want to know that happened to my son in the last minutes of his life.” Johnson told AZ Central.
The protests started peacefully on Friday with only sporadic instances of aggressive behavior on behalf of those protesting. Things escalated when, without warning, the police declared the protest to be an unlawful demonstration and began firing rubber bullets and pepper spray into the crowd.
Another protest in Downtown Phoenix Saturday started peacefully and ended with police using rubber bullets and pepper spray to disperse the crowds. That same night in downtown Scottsdale a group of rioters broke into Scottsdale Fashion Square and began looting. This led Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, to declare a state of emergency, authorize the National Guard and institute a week-long curfew.