Amaurie Johnson

City of La Mesa Says Officer Involved in Controversial Arrest of Amaurie Johnson is No Longer Employed by City

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The city of La Mesa confirmed Friday that the officer involved in the controversial arrest of Amaurie Johnson is no longer employed by the city.

La Mesa Police Department Officer Matt Dages, a three-year veteran of the force who stopped Johnson in late May, was placed on leave while an independent review was being conducted.

"The City of La Mesa and the La Mesa Police Department have received multiple inquiries regarding the status of Matt Dages. Matt Dages is not employed by the City of La Mesa in any capacity," the city of La Mesa said in a release.

No other information was released.

"All I know is he is no longer working there. I have not been provided any correspondence or communication from the city of La Mesa," Tory Owens, attorney for Johnson told NBC 7.

On June 27, Dages stopped Johnson at the Grossmont Trolley Station, allegedly for smoking in public at the platform area, but no evidence of drug paraphernalia was found when officers searched him, according to Johnson.

Tensions rose and several officers responded to the scene. Eventually, Johnson was taken into custody on charges of assault on an officer and resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer. More than a week later, LMPD dropped the charges.

In both the social media video and body camera video released by officers, Dages and Johnson can be seen arguing. Johnson tells the officer he was waiting for someone. The officer pushes Johnson onto a bench. More officers arrive.

In one of the videos released by police, Johnson’s friend approaches officers to explain that Johnson was waiting for him to come back from the grocery store.

"(Johnson) is coming to my house,” he can be heard telling police officers on the bodycam video. “As we pull up, (a police officer) is already questioning him like he is in the wrong like he is not supposed to be here.”

The LMPD videos also show Johnson being detained and being placed in the back of a police car. From within the vehicle, the argument between Johnson and the arresting officer can be heard.

Activists have pointed out that the arrest of Johnson highlights the targeting of Black men by law enforcement in the U.S.

“They contacted him because he is a Black man standing somewhere they didn’t want him to stand, and you need to understand what it means to be Black in this city and in this county,” activist Genevieve Jones-Wright said during a press conference before charges were dropped.

In July, Johnson filed a lawsuit against the city of La Mesa, La Mesa Police Department Officer Matt Dages, and six John Does.

The suit alleges Johnson was arrested without probable cause and further alleges negligence, excessive force, violence because of race and Monell liability.

"Mr. Johnson is pleased with this new development. Mr. Johnson is also interested in changing the dynamic and the relationship between law enforcement and the minority community," Owens said.

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