Mr. Stephen Wagner, the attorney for Brandon Johnson's family issued a statement on their behalf following the verdict by the Civilian Police Merit Board Friday morning.
"Brandon Johnson, his mother and family are disappointed, but not surprised, by the Civilian Merit Board's decision this morning. Brandon Johnson's mother, Shantay Chandler, and I were present for the majority of the hearing. The union lawyers did their job well, pointing out that the 13-16 year old civilian witnesses who gave lengthy statements to internal affairs shortly after the incident were not as consistent in certain details as the five officers who had nine days to get their stories straight. We can only wonder why the officers weren't interviewed soon after this high profile incident like the other witnesses. But all of the witnesses, civilian and officers alike, agreed on certain facts which justify the firing of Officer Piland, not to mention Officer Carney, as well as discipline for the other officers at the scene. The testimony was consistent that Carney delivered a roundhouse right which knocked Brandon straight to the ground, and did so without being physically threatened. Indeed, Carney testified that Brandon was facing away from him when he initiated this physical contact. The officers described a "fight" taking place, but no witness testified that Brandon threw a punch, kick, bit, or otherwise physically assaulted any officer. On the contrary, even the officers' testimony showed that if Brandon was resisting at all, he was doing so passively by lying on his stomach and curling up trying to protect himself. This was not a fight—it was a beating.
Our constitution and IMPD policy do not allow law enforcement officers to beat civilians who verbally protest police action. Period. Whether you agree or disagree with Brandon's decision to question police (after Brandon left to get his older brother as the police instructed and was again ignored by officers), a three-on-one beating was excessive and illegal. It was so bad that Brandon's older brother, Mike, called 911 himself during the beating to plead for help. When Chief Ciesielski says this case is the worst instance of excessive force he's seen in 23 years, and the Merit Board still refuses to discipline the officer, something is wrong with our system.
For Brandon, this case isn't about larger community issues or the agenda of others in the community. This is about justice. This matter is far from over."
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