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VIDEOS: Family, county attorney speak out after charging decision in Dion Johnson case

Posted at 10:10 AM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-22 22:46:08-04

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel announced Monday that no criminal charges would be filed against Trooper George Cervantes who shot and killed Dion Johnson in May.

Following the announcement, Johnson's family and civil rights leaders gathered in Phoenix to speak about the decision.

"Deep down in my heart, I knew that they wasn't gonna charge him for my son's murder," Johnson's mother said Monday afternoon. "Yes, my son may have resisted arrest, but does that give him the right to shoot my son? And then he gets to walk free?"

Jocquese Blackwell, the attorney for Dion's family, spoke with ABC15 Mornings Tuesday to discuss the decision and what's next in the case.

Blackwell said the case has been "one-sided" and he doesn't understand why previous marks against Trooper Cervantes' record weren't taken into account during the decision.

"I believe his actions weren't reasonable...should have never happened," Blackwell said, noting that Johnson's family will be looking for help in the mourning process. Legally, the family will be filing a notice of claim against the individuals involved in Johnson's death.

Attorney for Dion Johnson family talks decision to not charge trooper

ABC15 also spoke with County Attorney Adel Tuesday about why the decision was made to not seek charges against Trooper Cervantes.

"Is there a reasonable likelihood of conviction?" Adel said, citing the process they go through while coming to decisions. "In this case, a committee came forward and gave me a recommendation...I trust that...recommendation that this was not a good thing for us to go forward with."

Adel said she can't speculate whether body camera and footage from the shooting would have resulted in a different result from her office, however, she did stress the importance of mandating body cameras "on all uniformed officers in the field."

She said they looked at the facts presented to them in the case and did not take into account the prior record of either Trooper Cervantes or Johnson.

Maricopa County Attorney discusses decision in Dion Johnson case

Julie Gunnigle, who is running against Adel in the Maricopa County Attorney race this year, said Monday that Adel's decision was an "act of cowardice."

In a statement, she wrote, "We should all demand swift reforms that require transparency, accountability, and community partnerships to ensure this never happens again."

Gunnigle told ABC15 Mornings on Tuesday that she wasn't surprised by Adel's decision, but believes Trooper Cervantes should be "subjected to a transparent process that is part of due process...with the same regard as anybody else. Nobody is above the law."

Julie Gunnigle, Allister Adel's opponent in MCAO race, discusses Dion Johnson decision, policies