CLAYTON, MO (KTVI) – A key witness to the Michael Brown shooting says it’s time for Ferguson, its former police chief, and former officer Darren Wilson, to pay up.
Dorian Johnson wasn’t physically hurt but the civil lawsuit he filed in St. Louis County Court says he bears psychological scars and emotional distress. He’s seeking damages and an injunction against Ferguson to stop what he says is unconstitutional behavior.
The harrowing account Dorian Johnson gave FOX 2 the day Brown died on Canfield Drive in Ferguson is again reflected in the lawsuit, along with findings from the U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Ferguson Police Department practices. Those findings noted that although African Americans were about 67 % of the Ferguson population, they accounted for 85% of traffic stops, 93% of arrests. It is against that back drop, the suit claims, that Wilson not only assaulted Brown but Johnson, too.
Johnson was walking with Brown when Wilson stopped them.
“We have to get past this idea that you can stop folks for no reason, you can harass them,” said attorney James Williams of New Orleans, who’s leading Johnson’s legal team. “You can get out of your car, you can shoot at them, and if you don’t draw blood, it’s no harm-no foul. That’s just not the case under the law.”
The suit alleges Wilson intentionally assaulted Johnson by stopping him without justification, withdrawing his weapon, and threatening to discharge it.
Ultimately he did fire on Brown with Johnson taking cover near a car.
Wilson has said after their initial encounter he realized Brown and Johnson matched the description of the suspects in the strong-armed theft of cigarillos from a convenience store minutes earlier. Wilson then confronted them again and ultimately killed Brown, he said, fearing for his life after Brown beat him and grabbed his weapon.
Johnson’s attorney said Johnson and Brown were the ones in fear-running away from Wilson when he pulled his weapon.
“You are certainly entitled to flee for your life and take cover if you are being assaulted. And what made Dorian Johnson hide behind the car was the fact that we has being shot at,” Williams said.
Johnson is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. The suit lists a minimum of $25,000.
He’s also asking for an injunction to stop what he calls the discriminatory practices of police in the City of Ferguson.
A Ferguson spokesman said its legal team does not comment on pending litigation.