Roswell Cops Didn’t ID Themselves, Shot Man


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A man sued Roswell police and said officers shot him without identifying themselves following a bizarre chain of events involving a fight with a relative.

Richard Johnson’s family member pistol-whipped him in October 2013, leaving him with a concussion and a bleeding gash, according to his recently filed federal civil rights lawsuit. He walked home, and a few hours later, an officer arrived at his apartment and yelled obscenities at him and told him to come out, the lawsuit says.

Johnson said he came to the door with a pistol and was shot without being told to drop his weapon. It was not known if he fired his gun.

Roswell authorities say police came to Johnson’s apartment after receiving a call about a disorderly drunken man. One officer said he and two colleagues saw a man charging out of an apartment with a small chrome gun, according to an affidavit.

The officer said he heard gunfire, and a fire extinguisher blew up. The officer could not say if Johnson fired his weapon, the affidavit said.

Prior to the shooting, Johnson fired his gun three times during the fight with his relative, asked the family member to shoot him and then threatened to shoot himself, police have said.

Roswell City Manager Steve Polasek said the city couldn’t comment on pending litigation. Bryan Evans, an attorney for the city and the officers, did not immediately return a phone message.

Johnson was charged with aggravated assault, aggravated assault upon a peace officer and negligent use of a deadly weapon. He pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges and is scheduled for a court hearing in April.

His lawsuit calls the officers’ actions “intentional, reckless, willful or deliberate, obdurate, in gross and reckless disregard” to Johnson’s civil rights. It names the city, Roswell police, Police Chief Phil Smith and three officers as plaintiffs.

Johnson has medical expenses from a number of surgeries performed at a Lubbock, Texas, hospital, where he was flown after the shooting, the lawsuit says. Johnson is seeking an unspecified amount of money in damages and medical bills.

Gary Mitchell, an attorney for Johnson, did not immediately return a call for comment.