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District Attorney: Cops ‘Acted Reasonably’ in Fatal Struggle

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

San Diego County's district attorney says three police officers should not face criminal charges in the death of a man who resisted arrest. Darryl Johnson struggled with police after he was stopped on his bicycle in 2006. Here's KPBS reporter Andrew Phelps with the DA's side of the story.

It's late at night in Lincoln Park, and 40-year-old Darryl Johnson is riding his bike. San Diego Police Officers Chris Tivanian and Michael DeWitt see that Johnson is riding without a light. They pull up beside him and then Johnson starts to flee.

When the cops catch up, Johnson violently resists arrest. Officer Mark Brenner drives by and comes to help. Officer Tivanian goes by the book and tries to put Johnson in a sleeper hold. Johnson refuses to submit. So Tivanian places Johnson in a headlock while his partner puts the handcuffs on. Dewitt uses elbows and knees to beat the suspect into submission.

Johnson has a heart attack. He falls into a coma and dies a week later. The coroner rules it a homicide.

Now, nearly two years later, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis says the officers "acted reasonably." She says a number of factors led to Johnson's death, including his excited emotional state and the presence of marijuana in his system.

Andrew Phelps, KPBS News.

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