Man shot after pulling knife on police avoids jail

April 04, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A 30-year-old St. Margarets man, shot in July when he pulled a knife on police, was spared a prison sentence last week after his attorney argued that the bullet wound has put the man in a prison of his own.

James D. Johnson Jr. of the 300 block of Forest Beach Road has permanent hip damage that makes walking difficult, faces repeated hospitalization and will never be able to work at his family's trash hauling business, his attorney said Friday.

Johnson was sentenced Friday to five years' probation and ordered to abstain from alcohol by Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr.

Johnson was shot in the hip during a confrontation with police in the

back yard of his home July 19. He pleaded guilty to assault before Judge Thieme on Feb. 18.

Howard Gerber, Johnson's attorney, said the Annapolis Senior High School graduate will either walk with a crutch or have to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life because of the 9 mm bullet wound, which broke his hip in five places.

"In this particular case, we had a lone man who brought a knife to a gunfight and didn't come out so well," Mr. Gerber told the judge. "He's going to be paying for it for the rest of his life."

He added that Johnson had "no significant criminal record."

Charges of battery against Johnson stemming from a fight with an acquaintance were dropped in 1981. He also was given probation before

judgment for charges of disturbing the peace and marijuana possession in separate incidents years ago, Mr. Gerber said.

Assistant State's Attorney Ron Naditch said prison time would serve no purpose, agreeing that Johnson's 0.287 blood-alcohol content blotted out his rationality at the time of the assault. The legal definition for intoxication is 0.10.

"If you're not drunk, you don't do something this stupid," Mr. Naditch said.

Johnson, who declined comment after the hearing, apologized to the judge for his behavior.

"It was a mistake, and I know now I'll try not to do anything wrong for the rest of my life," he said.

According to police reports, Johnson had been drinking heavily and

was arguing with his father when police were called about 3:30 p.m.

The first officer to arrive ordered him to drop the 8-inch knife he had grabbed in the argument with his father, James Sr. When he refused, the officer called for assistance, took out his 9 mm pistol and repeated the order.

Four more officers arrived and took positions about 20 to 30 feet from Johnson, who waved the knife at them and said, "I'm going to take you with me," according to statements filed by the officers.

As he drew the knife back over his shoulder to throw it, Johnson was shot by Officer Wayne Tanis, according to the statements.

Police said that an internal investigation into the shooting is continuing.

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