Murder Trial Starts For Off-Duty Dallas Cop Who Unloaded on Teens After Running Them Off Road

An off-duty police officer was shooting into a car at two teenage burglars less than five seconds after he rammed their car off the road, investigators testified during his murder trial this week.

In March 2016, Ken Johnson rammed a Dodge Challenger with his Chevrolet Tahoe twice, causing the Challenger to spin out and crash onto a sidewalk in front of an Addison gas station.

After the crash, the 37-year-old Farmers Branch officer jumped out of his Tahoe — which was rolling into oncoming traffic — and shot 16 times into the Challenger, killing 16-year-old Jose Cruz and seriously wounding Edgar Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who was also 16 at the time, lost a finger and his ear had to be reconstructed.

More than 20 people saw parts of the crash and the shooting at the intersection of Marsh Lane and Spring Valley Road.

The sun was still up around 7 p.m. that day, and several people were pumping gas at the station where the Challenger crashed.

Jasmin Felton went outside after hearing the crash and saw Johnson shooting into the car. She yelled at him to stop and he yelled back, she testified.

“Man, I’m tired of this! They stole my stuff!” she remembers him saying.

She replied, “It doesn’t matter.”

Johnson later resigned from the Farmers Branch Police Department, after the city’s police chief took him to task for the deadly pursuit.

The chase started after Johnson saw Rodriguez breaking into his Tahoe at his Farmers Branch apartment complex. He served as the courtesy officer there at the time, and he told investigators that the red Dodge Challenger matched the description of a car connected to several burglaries.

Johnson grabbed his gun and keys, leaving his badge and phone behind, and raced after Cruz’s Challenger in his Tahoe. Surveillance video shows the Tahoe hitting the back of the Challenger at the intersection, causing the car to spin into oncoming traffic and crash.

Johnson said the collision was accidental and said he only hit the car once. A traffic investigator testified that the Challenger had been rear-ended twice that day.

The former cop also claims he shot the teens because he saw the driver make a “sudden movement.” Police found no gun in the Challenger, but there was a box cutter in the center console.

Johnson also told investigators he yelled “loud verbal commands” before opening fire.

One witness testified that Johnson whooped as he was jumping out of his Tahoe and rushing toward the Challenger. Another said Johnson made an angry sound, like a grunt.

“Not everyone heard the ‘woohoo,’ but no one heard him identify himself as a police officer,” testified Eric Aguilar, the detective on the case. “And even if he did, there wasn’t enough time to comply.”

Witnesses said Johnson didn’t identify himself as a police officer until after he ran out of bullets.

At that point, Felton yelled that she was going to call the police after the shooting.

“I am the police!” Johnson shouted back, Felton testified.

Jurors are asked to consider the case from Johnson’s perspective, whether he was afraid of Cruz and Rodriguez.

“I approached with caution, with my duty weapon drawn,” Johnson wrote in his statement to investigators. “I identified myself by yelling, ‘Police,’ and, ‘Show me your hands.'”

But Aguilar said the evidence and witness statements show Johnson wasn’t cautious.

“The backdrop of his shooting was two gas stations, 7 o’clock on a Sunday with lots of people,” Aguilar said.

Investigators testified it would’ve been difficult to see Cruz’s hands through the darkly tinted windows of the Challenger, especially at dusk.

Defense attorney Robert Rogers pointed out there was a box cutter in the Challenger. Cruz worked at a manufacturing plant, and the blade was found with an employee badge and goggles.

Rogers questioned why investigators didn’t take more pictures of where the box cutter was found in the car and why it wasn’t tested for blood.

“My client’s life is on the line, do you understand that?” Rogers asked.

“I understand that,” Aguilar said.

“I’m trying to get exact answers for the jury,” Rogers said.

Johnson faces up to life in prison in the murder case and is also charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for shooting Rodriguez.

If convicted, he’s seeking a sentence of probation.


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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