Man convicted of assault after he was shot by police ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

February 19, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A 30-year-old St. Margarets man, who has used a wheelchair since he was shot in a confrontation with police in July, was convicted yesterday of assault.

James D. Johnson Jr. of the 300 block of Forest Beach Road entered an Alford plea in Anne Arundel Circuit Court on a charge he threw a butcher knife at two of five county police officers called to his home to stop a fight July 19.

An Alford plea means Johnson did not admit guilt, but acknowledged there was sufficient evidence to convict him.

In exchange for the plea, reckless endangerment and weapons charges were dropped, said Assistant State's Attorney Ron Naditch.

According to police reports, Johnson had been drinking heavily and was arguing with his father, James D. Johnson Sr., in the back yard when police were called at about 3:30 p.m. The first officer to arrive told Johnson to drop the 8-inch butcher knife he was waving at his father. Johnson refused, according to the reports.

The officer called for help, took out his pistol and repeated the order. Other officers arrived and took positions about 20 feet to 30 feet away from Johnson.

Johnson turned on the five officers, waving the knife and telling them, "I'm going to take you with me," according to statements filed by the officers.

As Johnson pulled back his arm to throw the knife, Officer Wayne Tanis fired one shot from about 25 feet away, striking Johnson in the hip. The knife landed between two of the officers.

Howard Gerber, Johnson's attorney, said his client drank so heavily that afternoon that the alcohol has blotted out his memory of the incident. His blood alcohol content registered at .287, well over the .10 legal limit for intoxication.

Mr. Gerber said after the hearing that Johnson is an Annapolis trash hauler who had never before been charged with a criminal offense. He said his client has been in a wheelchair since the shooting and it remains unclear if he will ever walk again.

"It's just a tragedy all around," he said.

Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. set sentencing for April 2.

A police spokesman said an internal investigation into the shooting is continuing.

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