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EL CAJON (CNS) – A former La Mesa police officer was acquitted Friday of a felony rely of falsifying a police report in connection along with his high- profile arrest of a younger Black man close to the Grossmont Transit Middle final 12 months.

Matthew Dages was accused of mendacity concerning the foundation of his Might 27, 2020, arrest of Amaurie Johnson, which sparked protests within the East County metropolis when a video of the arrest went viral.

Dages, who’s white, was fired by the La Mesa Police Division months after the arrest. He confronted three years in jail had he been convicted. An El Cajon jury deliberated for simply over a day earlier than returning the not responsible verdict.

Prosecutors alleged Dages lied in his report when he wrote that he noticed Johnson smoking, missing a trolley fare whereas being in a « fare paid zone, » after which changing into combative as soon as their encounter escalated into an argument.

Dages mentioned he instructed Johnson he wasn’t allowed to smoke within the space, then requested if Johnson lived on the residence advanced close by. Although Johnson initially mentioned he did stay there, he later admitted he was ready for buddies to select him up.

Prosecutors alleged the interplay escalated into an argument when Dages wouldn’t let Johnson depart the scene after his buddies arrived.

Movies of the incident present Dages pushing Johnson right into a seated place and pushing him down once more after Johnson stood up. Dages alleged in his report that Johnson balled his fists and took a « bladed stance » towards him, which prosecutors and Johnson disputed.

Dages testified that, from his perspective, it appeared that Johnson was placing a smoking system to his mouth. No lighter, cigarettes or different smoking implements have been ever discovered on his particular person.

Johnson was in the end arrested on suspicion of assault on an officer, and resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer, and was launched on a misdemeanor quotation.

The police division later introduced it could not be searching for expenses in opposition to Johnson, who has filed a federal lawsuit in opposition to Dages and the town of La Mesa.

Johnson’s arrest occurred two days after the in-custody loss of life of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and days after his arrest, a protest held at La Mesa police headquarters devolved into looting and rioting after darkish.

Prosecutors argued that because of the ongoing tensions concerning a video proliferated over social media of Johnson’s arrest, Dages was spurred to lie on his report back to justify the arrest and his subsequent use of power.

In keeping with testimony, Dages was ordered by his superiors to revise the report a number of occasions, which Dages’ attorneys alleged bolstered the report’s authenticity.

In a press release, San Diego County District Lawyer Summer time Stephan mentioned, « I wish to thank the jury for his or her time and consideration of this case. Whereas I respect the jury’s verdict, I stay proud that my staff courageously fought for justice with out prejudice in opposition to or favor in the direction of anybody.

« The integrity of our felony justice system is determined by law enforcement officials submitting truthful police reviews and our thorough assessment of the info and proof led us to carry the cost and current the case to the jury. The group can take consolation in figuring out that the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officials in our county serve with honor and uphold the legislation whereas doing the troublesome job of maintaining our communities protected. »

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