Upset over the murder of an unarmed teen, protestors in a Dallas suburb took over a city council meeting and then chased away the mayor, who fled in a police cruiser on Tuesday.
We reported about Farmer’s Branch police officer Ken Johnson back in March when the off-duty cop was charged with the murder of 16-year-old Jose Cruz after claiming to see the teen trying to break into his vehicle.
Cruz’s friend, Edgar Rodriguez, who was also shot by Johnson, said the plain-clothed officer never identified himself.
According to reports, about 200 protestors chanting “Jose Cruz” gathered outside city hall demanding an apology from the city, then filled the meeting, which prompted Mayor Bob Phelps to adjourn the meeting.
“If he did something he shouldn’t be doing, then he should be arrested – not shot,” said Nora Rubi, Cruz’s cousin.
After Phelps adjourned the meeting, protest organizer Carlos Quintanilla asked to be heard and said, “I understand you have an agenda. We want to meet with you, or we want to meet with somebody from the city of Farmers Branch to discuss the murder of Jose Cruz.”
“We will not leave today until we have a response from you or the city manager. And if not, we’ll go to your home, mayor.”
“You’re going to do what?” asked the mayor.
“We’ll go to your home.”
The mayor replied, “You’d better not!”
At that point, commotion continued in the parking lot as Phelps attempted to get into his car where protestors had surrounded the vehicle.
Police called for back up as they pushed back protestors, grabbing them as they forced their way forward.
The shooting occurred after Johnson saw Cruz and Rodriguez leaving his apartment complex after the alleged the break-in.
Johnson pursued the two teens in his vehicle, ramming Cruz’s Dodge Challenger with his Chevrolet Tahoe, which was caught on surveillance video.
When Johnson got out, he fired 17 shots into the vehicle, killing Cruz and wounding Rodriguez who were both unarmed.
According to a lawsuit filed by Cruz’s mother, “Officer Johnson then went back to his SUV to obtain more ammunition or another firearm, but then apparently decided to stop shooting.”
Chris Livington, Johnson’s attorney said his client feared for his life and that fear justified use of deadly force.
According to Dallas Morning News, when he applied to the Farmer’s Branch Police Department, Johnson failed to include details of two excessive force complaints filed against him during his eight year tenure with Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
After the protest Mayor Phelps told local media, “it kind of scares you. But I have a good police department taking care of me.”
In addition to the murder charge, Johnson was also charged with aggravated assault for wounding Rodriguez.
After the protest, State District Judge Ernie White raised Johnson’s bail from $150,000 to $300,000 and ordered him to surrender his weapons and stay away from witnesses involved in the case. Mayor
Mayor Phelps ultimately met with the family of Cruz after the protest.
Johnson has been placed on administrative leave while police conduct an internal affairs investigation.