This past Tuesday, Dorian Johnson filed a lawsuit against the Ferguson Police Department alleging that they assaulted him, inflicted emotional pain, and violated his constitutional rights during and after the incident in which he witnessed the shooting death of Michael Brown. The following day, Johnson and his brother were arrested by the neighboring St. Louis Police Metropolitan Department — for allegedly interfering with an arrest.
Police said they reported to the scene after they received a tip about a “large group possibly with firearms.” But he was also reportedly suspected of illegal narcotics, because he was holding a drink believed to be a mix of cough medicine and other illegal drugs. The mixture later tested negative for narcotics.
Lauren Trager, spokeswoman for the circuit, told the Riverfront Times that “A drug charge was brought to our office. It was refused by our office.”
Johnson was nonetheless arrested on misdemeanor charges of “resisting or interfering with arrest/detention/stop.” The charging document stated that Dorian, “ran toward PO N.S. and demanded that PO N.S. remove his hands from Demonte Johnson.”
“Dorian Johnson further stated that the police could not arrest any of them,” the officer’s probable cause statement explains. “I was then able to grab Dorian Johnson before he could make contact with PO N.S. Dorian Johnson then struggled with me and tried to pry himself away from me. I had to physically struggle with Dorian Johnson until I was able take him to the ground and get handcuffs on him.”
Johnson’s arrest fits with a pattern of witnesses to prominent police brutality incidents facing arrest, and many on Twitter immediately called it out as “predictable,” questioning the source of the original tip.
Just last week, the man who filmed the police arrest of Freddie Gray was arrested without police offering an explanation or stating what the charges were. He was released later that night, but the two friends arrested with him from the group CopWatch remained in custody.
And the man who filmed the police chokehold of Eric Garner was likewise arrested shortly after that video became public. Eric Orta was charged on two counts of criminal possession of a semiautomatic handgun and trying to give the firearm to a teenager on the street, and just released from jail last month, after supporters raised enough money for his bail through a crowdsourcing site. Both men say they were arrested in retaliation for their filming of the police. Orta even went on hunger strike in jail because he was afraid the staff would poison his food.