La Mesa Police Officer Matthew Dages has been charged with filing a false police report for lying about his reasons for arresting Amaurie Johnson on May 27th of last year. Dages claimed that Johnson assaulted him by smacking his arm before he was arrested, but that claim was clearly controverted by video evidence from Dages' own body camera and the cell phone of a witness. Dages also claimed that his original reason for stopping Johnson was that he suspected him of smoking marijuana on the grounds of the Grossmont Trolley Center. No evidence was ever discovered to support the theory that Johnson was on Grossmont Trolley Center property or smoking marijuana. It appears that Johnson was just waiting for some friends near the Grossmont Trolley Center when he was accosted by Officer Dages.
You can watch the arrest from a couple different angles on YouTube. The long version (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C60fkgzrNE) is from the body camera of a different officer. It fails to capture the full encounter with Officer Dages, but adds to the overall context. The short version is from Officer Dages' body camera (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMLoNk1JN0U). At no point was Johnson resisting or otherwise doing anything illegal. You can also watch parts of a cell phone video embedded with the news report about Dages' arrest below. A second spirited encounter between the Dages and Johnson was also caught on another officer's body camera (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkbM8wPPtug). That encounter took place when Dages had Johnson sign a citation and released him. At one point Dages threatened to arrest Johnson again for shaking the gate after waiting patiently for it to be opened so that he could go home.
Several Black Lives Matter protests followed Johnson's arrest and Dages was placed on paid administrative leave. All charges against Johnson were dropped. Johnson filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court back in July for false arrest and excessive force. We are uploading a copy of the complaint as a PDF with this article. You can listen to his attorney describe the merits of the case on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px6vEgF4LWE). Johnson says that the arrest was racially motivated. He has a point. As an objective third party it appears to us that Officer Dages noticed there was something dark about Johnson and that darkness appears to be him complexion. Among the accusation made in the lawsuit was that Officer Dages refused to believe that a black man in athletic gear near a public transit hub would have friends living in luxury apartments. Dages was fired in early August and a city review board upheld his termination in December.
After announcing the charges against Dages, District Attorney Summer Stephan told the media, "When someone in a position of trust such as a police officer commits a crime, it causes tremendous harm and shakes the community's confidence in those who are sworn to protect them." Johnson thanked publicly thanked Stephan for his support. Dages is scheduled to be arraigned on March 9th at 1:30.