Police Abuse

Cop Fires Gun Randomly, Suffers Panic Attack, Is Disarmed by Paramedics, Still Has Job

The unarmed man he shot at is being charged with assault.

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Bodycam footage of Sevier County Sheriff's Deputy Justin Johnson
Screenshot via Knoxville News-Tribune

For those of you who haven't seen the body cam video and are planning to travel through Sevier County, Tennessee anytime soon, a warning: Sheriff's Deputy Justin Johnson is still on active duty.

The video, obtained by Knoxville News-Sentinel, shows Johnson chasing down and tackling a woman, suddenly and apparently without provocation firing seven rounds from his service weapon at an unarmed man outside of a trailer home and hyperventilating and waving his gun for several minutes before paramedics disarmed him.

And while the body cam footage makes it clear that Johnson suffered a full blown panic attack, something he didn't report at the time of the incident in December of 2016, he is the only one involved whose actions have so far not been investigated.

Sevier County Sheriff Roland "Hoss" Seals told local reporters he could not comment on any ongoing criminal matter. But in a Facebook post Monday he insisted "Deputy Johnson responded to a situation that in an instant called for a split-second response" and that every deputy under his employ "does the best that he or she can given the dynamic, complicated, stressful, dangerous, and fluid situations that we are called to mediate every time a call for help is dispatched."

Johnson had responded to a request for assistance from paramedics who were tending to a "disoriented" woman who claimed a woman, later identified as Tina Carrie Jo Cody, had stolen her purse at a mobile home in Sevierville.

When Johnson arrived, Cody fled on foot. Footage from Johnson's body camera shows Johnson chasing Cody down with his gun drawn and tackling her to the ground. Johnson and a paramedic are seen in the video attempting to restrain Cody.

Johnson abruptly begins firing at Brian Keith Mullinax, who shares the mobile home with Cody and was filming Johnson arresting her. The video shows what appears to be a disoriented Johnson breathing fiercely and waving his gun until the paramedic takes it away from him.

Johnson, the newspaper reported, made no mention of the panic attack in his initial report, claiming instead that Mullinax shouted that he had a gun and appeared to be aiming an object at him. The body cam footage supports none of it and fails to show Mullinax anywhere near Johnson during the entire episode. The video, however, shows other officers who arrived at the scene restraining Mullinax.

Initially, Mullinax and Cody were hit with felony assault charges. In March of this year, those charges were dismissed by a judge and the case was sent back for review by a Sevier County grand jury. The grand jury indicted Cody for resisting arrest and Mullinax for misdemeanor assault of Johnson.

Mullinax's trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday. Johnson remains, with no explanation, on active duty.

If the video, as the sheriff has contended, depicts Johnson doing his best to respond to stress, this alone would be cause for an investigation of his actions. The deputy's video cam footage calls into question the charges against Cody and Mullinax.

Sevier County taxpayers most assuredly deserve better from their sheriff's department. There is, so far, no accounting for at least one of their deputies.

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  1. Police unions, and all public sector unions, are the scourge of our country. Nearly every systematic problem we have can be traced back to the lack of accountability of government employees.

    1. Sometimes BLM groups get awfully close to this and I’m so hopeful that meaningful policy proposals might come out of it.. then they usually fall back into leftists claptrap and I’m like whatever.

      1. They would be more effective without the leftism but that doesn’t make their primary effort wrong.

        They will eventually get derailed but for now I am glad they are drawing attention to the issue.

        1. I think the media reporting on any of the white people killed by cops would do far more to actually get results, but that doesn’t fit the narrative.

          According to WaPo’s tracker, which is the best around, 377 white people and 180 black people have been killed by cops. 19 of the white people were unarmed. 12 of the black people were unarmed.

          Considering black people also make up >50% of the murders in the country and are far more likely to commit violent crimes, I don’t see any evidence that racism has a play in police killings.

          Other than that white lady who was killed recently, who was in the news for a day or two, can you name a single one of the 377 white people killed by cops? Do you remember any reporting on them? Any outrage? Did all of them deserve it?

          No. It doesn’t fit the divisive narrative needed. Focusing mostly on race will solve 0% of the issues with policing in this country.

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        2. Eventually derailed? They derailed the thing within the first couple of weeks. There was significant momentum building in the reform movement before Ferguson. Within a couple of weeks after Ferguson, the entire narrative became hunting down individual racists, and the racism inherent in the system.

          Which set up a counter-narrative, of black versus white. Law & Order versus thugs running wild. Why? Because instead of picking any one of a couple of hundred obviously unjustified shootings, they latched onto an incident that has at least a strong argument on the side of the police. So now all of Middle America thinks that people who protest police brutality are soft on crime and race-baiting nutjobs.

          Radley Balko was doing a good job of framing the issue as one of police reform from the top. An issue where the political class and higher-ups in the police department were putting officers in a position to make fatal mistakes through bad training, bad policies and bad enforcement.

          But because of the #blm movement, that is off the table. Now all we can talk about is racial Justice. Which is a good way to get half of the country to be defensive and choose the side of the police.

          1. BLM was created to quell criticism of unjustified police violence.

            1. no it was created as a means of promoting the emotional “justification” of racism due to a skewed reporting of facts. Straight out of Marx and Alinsky, heavily festered by the kinyun and his minions. Don’t be fooled. WHY were so many of the early “actions” by BLM partially manned and funded on support from the one soros most prominent in that uprising? Just like Occupy, Antifa, the Berserkely riots, etc. WHEN will someone with spine track down the financing behind the massive transportation of out of area “demonstrators” and “protestors”, and charge the soros of much of this with interstate conspiracy to foment riot and civil disturbance? In more sane times, the charges would rise to the level of treason, the making war on a state or several states.

        3. I think BLM has done more to set back the cause of police reform and addressing police brutality than anything in the last 15 years.

      2. The real problem with cops in this country is the lack of diversity training.

      3. I know it’s heresy around here, but in most cases I don’t think cops should go to jail. In most cases that have made national news recently, the cop actually does follow policy and protocol. They do what they are taught. Focusing on individual cops and whether or not individuals are racist will solve absolutely nothing. It is actually counterproductive because it distracts from the main problem, which is the culture and training policies taught by police unions, who vehemently oppose even the most minor of reforms. The paranoia and “we’re at war” mentality is taught to them. The absurdly low requirements for use of deadly force are taught by the unions.

        But the Republicans love cops because “law and order” and Democrats love unions because they give them a shit ton of money.

        1. Oh, in those union classes? Do you know what the fuck you’re talking about, or are you a useless rightwing fucktard whose opinion is intricately tailored to be about nothing and propose no solution to anything?

          1. The unions control the police academies and the training policies. They tell the politicians what they want, and the politicians give it to them. Do you know what the fuck you are talking about?

            1. those unions also tightly control the upper echelons of management in police departments across the nation, populate and control “police review boards”, and heavily promote policies for training, accountability, etc. Not much goes on back at the office they don’t control very tightly. They also go to bat for individual officers being investigated and/or (rare though it is) charged with any misconduct. Helps that the unions also manage the review boards, even ones with local citizens on them. They control the information (propaganda?) submitted to the review boards in “investigations”. The “thin blue line” begins in the backrooms of the Union local halls.

        2. “the cop actually does follow policy and protocol”… because god forbid they should actually think for themselves, or do any research on how to handle suspects!

      4. I am more and more of the opinion that the BLM groups are – at least in part – aimed at distracting the poor and brown from doing anything effective about the Police Unions and the Democrat establishment that runs the cities where they are strongest.

        Someday, I hope within my lifetime, American Blacks are going to wake up to how they are used by the Democrat establishment, the Liberal Intellectualoids, and Black quislings like Sharpton. And then, to borrow a phase from the late Sir. Terry Pratchett, hell is going to go for a walk with the sleeves rolled up.

        1. I keep marveling at that fact. All big cities are completely controlled from top to bottom by Democrats, and often “Democrats of Color”. Yet the activist class and “the people” continue to blame republicans for racist police and a racist system that targets black people. Really odd logic at work.

          Tribalism is extremely strong like that. I got to see an example close up with unions and politics, having nothing to do with race.

          My sister in law is a school teacher, and her union was embroiled in a fight to get wage increases in Palm Beach County Florida back in the early aughts.

          Because of what she was being told by the union, she was really, really mad at George Bush for not giving her a raise. When I explained that the President doesn’t have anything to do with her local school system’s wages, she retrenched and blamed Jeb Bush (governor of FL), who also doesn’t control the wages of teachers in the Palm Beach County school system.

          Who does? The democrats (unanimous) on the school board and the county commissioners (democrats). And the democrat superintendent.

          In fact, there is not a single republican who had any authority over her salary.

          But she remained unmoved…. Bush hasn’t given us a raise in over 5 years…. Republicans hate education and kids.

          Really bizarre belief set, unless you invoke tribalism to explain it.

          1. It’s part of the globalizing ideals of Communism I believe. One thing you often see is the idea that their beliefs only fail because not everyone is onboard. Chicago blames neighboring states for it’s gun policy not working. Venezuela blames external capitalist forces for why their system is failing. Many people blame rich people moving to better tax areas, either in the country or out of country, for the failings of our welfare state. To this end they always have a scapegoat.

            1. Let me guess, when it becomes obvious they are to blame, they just say what difference does it make?

    2. Explain specifically how this incident is the fault of unionization.

    3. Yeah well I don’t think elected Sheriffs have unionized deputies. That’s more of a city police thing. No, the voters are directly responsible for the actions of a Sheriff and no doubt these are Trump voters.

  2. So tangential involvement in a situation that causes a cop to have a panic attack is assault? Good to know, but does nothing to assuage MY panic attacks when a cop is around.

    1. Oh, and he spent 42 days in prison for it, too. Poor bastard.

  3. Wow. The one cop doing his job, trying to keep the handcuffed lady on the ground, doesn’t know how close he came to being shot by his freaked out partner. Or is that a paramedic? I love his WTF eyes when the cop starts gasping, he starts to see. Even if the cop is still on the job, why isn’t everyone else on the force treating him like an unstable grenade?

    1. Maybe they are.

    2. That’s the paramedic

  4. Notice how he abandoned EMS to their fate as well as handle his detainee while he ran for cover. Brave brave hero.

  5. Also, the prosecutor is getting way too much of a pass in all of this. He has it on film that everything in his charges are a lie. Yet he persists

    He should not only be run out of town on a rail, he should be hanging his head in shame. Yet he presses on with charges against the victims of an armed and deranged public servant..

    As far as the cop goes, it seems that he thought that there was a man behind him holding a gun and shouting that he had a gun. He did not react well, or professionally, but under those circumstances at least his freak out is something within the realm of normal human response. Not what you want in a police officer Carrying a weapon, but at least it is a plausible response.

    But the detectives, prosecutors, and judges who kept these people in jail for a month and a half, knowing all along that they did not do anything criminal….. They have no excuse. They had plenty of time to deliberate their actions, and they continued to violate these people’s rights and the Constitution. The people of their County should not tolerate this level of willful incompetence.

    I can see moving Mister Panic Attack Into a role where he does not carry a weapon. But the rest of the people involved in this fiasco should be fired forthwith. Their behavior is inexcusable.

    1. “He should not only be run out of town on a rail, he should be hanging his head in shame. Yet he presses on with charges against the victims of an armed and deranged public servant..

      Hanging his head in shame be damned. He should be hanging from a convenient lamp post.

    2. What are you going to believe, the sworn word of a policeman or that lying video?

    3. “He has it on film that everything in his charges are a lie.”

      That’s reminiscent of the John Crawford shooting. The prosecutor in that case held a long press conference at which he carefully explained why the officers were not at fault, while illustrating with video from the store surveillance cameras that showed just the opposite. It was surreal.

    4. I can see moving Mister Panic Attack into a padded cell.He’s clearly a danger to himself and others.

  6. He may have panicked because he realized he had just discharged his weapon for no reason. He then, of course, lied on his report to justify it. The paramedic may have been threatened to stay quiet on what he had seen.

    The sheriff is a fool to try to sweep this one under the rug. When there’s video and a hero to a story, it’s too good not to get out.

  7. Hmm. Two people at that trailer are described as being “disoriented”. Perhaps it should be checked out for a possible leak of some substance that could be causing that? And what happened to the woman who originally claimed that Cody stole her purse? There seems to be no further mention of her.

    1. Yeah, Cody seemed disoriented in the way that someone who is afraid of the guy with the gun who is coming at her for no reason that she can discern seems disoriented. She seems genuinely confused and afraid in the beginning of the video.

      From the description in the article and the video, it isn’t immediately clear why the police officer moved from “disoriented obese lady in a trailer who doesn’t know what day it is needs help” to “shouting scary commands at redneck lady in the yard”. I’ll assume he intended to investigate claims that she is guilty of stealing a purse, but when you start with “disoriented lady doesn’t know the day or time makes claims against landlord”, I’d say moving forward with other witnesses should probably proceed with courtesy and caution, rather than threats of violence.

  8. Well damn that was disturbing. There’s a guy who should never be issued a gun again. Nobody was seriously injured only through poor marksmanship and luck.

    Are the authorities trying to protect him because they don’t want to be accused of racism for firing a black officer in redneck country?

    1. He should never hold a driver’s license again if he’s that big of a nut case..

  9. planning to travel through Sevier County, Tennessee

    Phbbt…. because nobody I know would ever travel *to* a place like Sevier County, fckin’ flyover country!

    1. The population of the county is less than 100k. So you might guess that it would not be a destination for many.

      But it also includes Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, two of the biggest tourist destinations in the south. So you definitely have a point.

      1. That’s why they fuck their family members.

      2. But it also includes Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, two of the biggest tourist destinations in the south. So you definitely have a point.

        Semi-annual family reunions happen just outside Gatlinburg. Lots of Gatlinburg is worse than Branson and there are big parts of the family that I’m less than overjoyed to see and I’d still admit to thoroughly enjoying my time in a rented cabin in just outside the Smokies.

        1. “thoroughly enjoying my time in a rented cabin in just outside the Smokies”

          Just don’t play that tape of the professor reciting from the Necronomicon.

        2. What do you mean by “worse than Branson?” Only reason I ask is because I grew up there and have lots of family still living in the area.

          I’m not getting defensive by the way. I’m just genuinely curious.

    2. I spent a summer working there a couple of years back. There is no reason anyoen would want to live there, that I can see.

      And I come from the heart of the Ozark mountains in Arkansas, so this ain’t no flyover argument. Tennessee is a faaaairly shitty place all the way across, outside of the cities. Sevierville is a pill-popping hole in the shit.

      1. Sevierville is a pill-popping hole in the shit.

        Because if it weren’t, it’d be a purse-snatching hole in the shit. And if it weren’t that, it’d still never be a bastion of civility and moral fortitude like Chicago or New York. Where people never take pills, steal purses, or panic fire at strangers.

        As much as I dislike “Republicans who smoke weed” it’s civil libertarians like you that make them seem just eccentric rather than like assholes.

        1. Because if it weren’t, it’d be a purse-snatching hole in the shit. And if it weren’t that, it’d still never be a bastion of civility and moral fortitude like Chicago or New York. Where people never take pills, steal purses, or panic fire at strangers.

          As much as I dislike “Republicans who smoke weed” it’s civil libertarians like you that make them seem just eccentric rather than like assholes.

          That’s some high-quality non sequitur gibberish.

        2. Just to be clear, in case anyone else ALSO can not read, and likes to assign designations to people they know nothing about –

          My family have been Ozarks hillbillies since before the Civil War. Even among hillbillies and rednecks, my family is known as hillbillies and rednecks. I lived in a few big cities while I was in the Army, but would NEVER choose to live in one. I have to be near Little Rock (about 200k people) for work now, so I live 30 minutes north. I am FAAAAR from someone who sniffs about ‘fly-over country’. The only thing in the world I’m working for these days is to buy a few hundred acres along the Buffalo River, and disappear from society altogether.

          I’ve traveled A LOT for work – I was in the Army for a decade, worked on cell phone tower sites for a couple of years, and started with my current company travelling around the country installing software and training people on how to use it. I’ve worked damned near everywhere. Tennessee is largely a shithole state outside of Nashville and Knoxville, and Sevierville is one of the biggest shitholes I encountered. I mention pill-popping SPECIFICALLY because pillheads are the #1 thing I remember about that area. I was warned by a local girl on my second or third day there that half of everyone was strung out, and it turned out over time that she was correct.

          Long story short – go fuck yourself, retard, go find yourself some reading comprehension.

    3. I wouldn’t even fly over it if I could fly around it.

    4. ” I know would ever travel *to* a place like Sevier County”
      I always watch out for the police when I’m driving through Nutbush. Looks like Sevier County is worse.

    5. Hey, fuck you too. Not everyone that lives there is a nutjob. Have a nice day jerk.

  10. Ok, last thought on this.

    I’ve harangued everyone here about focusing on “bad cops” instead of police training and procedures for years. This case is a perfect example. Christian’s writeup focuses on “panic attack cop” remaining on the force.

    But let’s look at his actions – from his point of view.

    He hears someone behind him yell “I have a gun” and sees a man pointing something at him. He immediately opens fire and seeks cover.

    Where did he go wrong? That’s exactly how they train them. Shoot immediately if you see a gun. Or someone reaching for a gun. “Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6”, right?

    There’s no training to do any ascertaining or negotiating if someone is brandishing a weapon. You start shooting immediately. Lives depend on it.

    So from the facts that he had at the time (which were wrong), the only mistake he made was in firing wildly and missing his target. So a “by the book” review by his superiors should call for additional training in firearms handling. That is all.

    That is what needs addressing. Not the possibility that one person without the temperament to handle a deadly weapon under stress might make it on the force. That’s gonna happen. People are people, and people make mistakes.

    Teaching them to just open fire at the first moment they suspect a gun isn’t an individual mistake. It is a fatal flaw in the system.

    1. When in doubt, ask, ‘What would Jesus do?’, no not the Son of Man guy, the son of immigrants guy, with a bright future ahead of him who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Can he fire off a string or two, protecting himself and the people around him, and walk? If so, then the cop should walk, if not then neither should the badge pass ‘Go’.

    2. He hears someone behind him yell “I have a gun”

      Not in the video presented in the link.
      Someone off camera says “I am recording this”.

      1. Not to defend Cyto too adamantly, but I agree with his overall point. The policies aren’t a hallmark of a civilian policing force. They aren’t even the hallmark of an invading or defending military force. They are the hallmark of a dominant force wiping out it’s opposition at any costs. As long as bodies are on the force and they are capable of spraying bullets, the ends will come.

        Whether he heard/saw a gun or not, whether he panicked or not is immaterial (or at least not pre-eminently material). He sprayed bullets into a home/trailer park and, apparently, isn’t being investigated. It’s not unheard of to court martial soldiers for similar acts.

      2. You missed the point. It isn’t about whether he was right or wrong… It is about what he perceived and what his training dictated.

        He thought he heard a threat and saw a gun. At that moment, his training says “start shooting”. There is no room for error in that training.

        They don’t act like that in the military. Heck, they don’t even act like that in the movies. Even movie cops know to yell “drop it” or “police, hands up” first.

        The fact that he was wrong in this case should not be the primary focus. Because if being wrong about what you heard or saw in a two second window is the problem, There is no fix for that.

        And right now that is what you hear police counter with. “Split second decision” is the magic phrase. Nobody focuses on everything that comes before that moment. And the only time to change the outcome is to change what happens before the split second decision.

        1. Really, I think it’s about the fact that a cop is so inviolate that pointing a fucking camera at one who shot at you seven times gets YOU charged with assault.

        2. Really, I think it’s about the fact that a cop is so inviolate that pointing a fucking camera at one who shot at you seven times gets YOU charged with assault.

    3. The video opens with him chasing a harmless looking woman with his weapon drawn, screaming and brutally manhandling her for no obvious reason. Nobody yelled “I have a gun”. The paramedics don’t appear to believe that they’re being threatened. This guy is a total train wreck for the entire 9 minute video. In the aftermath this scumbag participates in the prosecution of an innocent bystander for causing his “panic attack”. I wouldn’t work next to this idiot stocking shelves at Walmart. I’m not disagreeing with your point. I’m just baffled by the idea that this guy could be trained to be a rational human being.

    4. “””He hears someone behind him yell “I have a gun”””

      That’s probably the boiler plate lie often used after their weapon is discharged. It needs to be said so they can rally around the self defense claim.

  11. No joke fair warning, two friends of mine were traveling from Arkansas to South Carolina, near Knoxville their motor home was pulled over by these assclowns and searched for no reasonable cause, and several weapons were confiscated. Tried to recover them later but officers went into full denial mode.

  12. What fat, retarded pussies.

  13. Notice how the paramedic gives the cop his gun back, and he then goes back into panic-attack mode.

    The article said a grand jury rejected charges that the woman is to blame for the panic attack. That’s a reason to keep grand juries – no matter how the prosecution stacks the grand jury proceedings, sometimes they see something that doesn’t pass the smell test, and they reject it.

    1. She’s still charged with resisting arrest even though it’s unclear what she was arrested for.

      1. Still not as bad as what the prosecutors wanted.

  14. But remember, only police officers can be trusted with guns. Becuz pro-fessional trainingZ!!!!!

  15. This is a good time for the city council to rename Columbus Day.

  16. Did you guys see the dog?
    You just know his name HAS to be, “Lucky”.

    1. I was thinking the same thing.

  17. The video is perfectly understandable when you realize the cop is reacting the entire time to the dog that first appears in the distance at 2:30 after the shots are fired, then trots across the middle of the action at 2:50.

    Seven shots, hysterical commands, a panic attack; dogs are kryptonite to cops. That’s why the paramedics weren’t alarmed and assumed control.

  18. What is with these police who flat out lie about what they’ve done when there’s video that proves they are lying?

  19. I am so sick of that “split second decision” crap being used as an excuse for police misconduct. Every one of us, every time we get behind the wheel of a car, is called upon to make split second decisions, and almost all of us, almost all of the rime, do so without leaving a trail of dead bodies in our wakes. Any public servant who can’t, or won’t, make an effort to do the same should, at the very least, be disarmed.

  20. I don’t blame the police at all for not trusting the political system. Do you? If they avoid trusting due process for their own, it just goes to show how untrustworthy the system is. No one in their right mind believes that making due process a political process has improved it.
    Panic attacks and PTSD on the part of officers is understandable, as is the same on the part of members of the public, so when everyone survives, that’s a good outcome, and I have no problem with not assigning blame, forgiving failure or weakness, or refusing to prosecute somebody. But no scapegoats, please. Stirring up public outrage is the cause of much of the problem with our laws in the first place, and it really doesn’t matter whether we in the public do it or we let the politicians do it: the result is the same bad result. Calm down and apply common sense — ignore the tempest in a teapot.
    Those in the justice system simply need to treat everyone with the same understanding that they use with people they know.

  21. How does wishing a job-loss on the officer produce a better result? We don’t know enough to know whether his behavior is treatable, correctable, or due to medication, for example. It is precisely the lack of due process and failure to apply common sense and understanding that is the problem. This is how suicidal mass shooters are created–public shaming, job loss, and no way to recover in private. Two wrongs don’t make a right in this case, even though they well illustrate the problem. When somebody fails spectacularly and publicly, bullying is not going to help.
    The question is, “How can this be dealt with so that our rights are protected?” Not, “Who should be punished or made to lose?”

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