by Max Brantley
I've reported before that Chris Johannes, the officer who took the most aggressive role in the arrest of Surgeon General Joe Thompson at the front door of his home, has a long record of use of force in his years on the force. He's filed 72 reports on use of force in contact with people in the field (that includes some car chases and wrecks, which are also subject to reporting on the same form). He'd been on the force seven years at the time I ran the report.
He's been subject of eight complaints by members of the public for excessive force. Johannes is also the cop who, while on private duty at Park Plaza, fired gunshots at a car attempting to leave the parking deck (driving in a threatening manner toward him, he's said). The occupants, black males, had spoken to a white teenaged girl and her mother had complained.
Today, I received information from a similar request on the other officer involved in the Thompson arrest, Nicholas Kinsey. He's 25 and will have been on the force two years in June. The police turned up four of the use of force/chase reports required to be filed by all officers, two of them concerning chases, on his record. The two force reports were inconsequential. Here's the record the LRPD was able to compile.
It was Johannes, a private security man himself in his off-hours, who seemed intent on correcting Thompson in his unhappiness about a private Stephens Inc. security guard staking out the neighborhood from a car parked in front of Thompson's Ridgeway house. It was Johannes who tried to get Thompson out of his house (police well know the limits of rousting a non-criminal within his own house). But it was Kinsey who directed a flashlight beam in Thompson's face. It was Johannes who initiated the arrest and took Thompson to the ground, commenting, "I’m tired of being super nice to you. It’s over."
I'm tired of cops getting away with this kind of crap. The case has been set for a May 30 trial. I think there's still hope for the cool heads of the prosecuting attorney's office to review the evidence and determine a crime has not been committed. And there's still time for Police Chief Stuart Thomas, who's been an honorable, solid leader of a force he knows well in a city he understands, to recognize the accumulation of police actions that are giving the community cause for a malign view of the LRPD. Sometimes, cops do wrong — even though you can understand how they can become cynical about the people they deal with in dark nights of rough encounters. When they overreact to what they deem a lack of proper respect for their brethren in the private security industry, as seems to be the case here based on growing audio and video evidence, there should be public consequences.
End of screed with another apology to Joe Thompson for being willing to believe that he might have had some culpability from the way he acted that night — as described by the cops and the billionaire's private dick. Intoxicated? I know drunk. He wasn't.