Off-Duty Officer Who Murdered Teen Should be Held to Higher Standard When Sentenced

For purposes of his murder trial, Ken Johnson wanted jurors to know he was a cop — that he was trained and experienced, that he had the instincts of a veteran police officer.

On Monday, when his sentencing trial opens, Johnson should be held to that standard. He was off duty on March 13, 2016, when he emptied his gun into a car occupied by two teenage burglary suspects.

But in the words of his own defense lawyer: “When you’re a peace officer, you never have a day off.”

In claiming the authority of the badge for his actions, the former Farmers Branch patrolman betrayed the most elemental and altruistic tenets of the job: protection, service, keeping the peace.

In claiming that he pursued and shot dead a teenage thief not just incidental to, but as a direct result of his profession, he insulted men and women in law enforcement everywhere.

For an ordinary citizen to behave like a violent hothead with no respect for other people’s safety or for lawful procedure is shameful. For a police officer, it’s inexcusable, abhorrent.

Responsible cops don’t blow their tops and grab their guns to run after thieves while they’re off duty. They don’t chase them through city traffic in their private cars and ram their vehicles to make them stop.

“That’s just something we don’t do,” testified Johnson’s ex-boss, Farmers Branch Police Chief Sid Fuller.

They don’t turn around and wander away from somebody they claim that, only minutes earlier, had put them in fear for their lives. Johnson’s defense was that he saw one of the teenagers “reach for something” that might have been a gun.

“We don’t turn our backs on suspects who are not secured … if there’s a legitimate fear,” testified Johnson’s ex-colleague, a former Farmers Branch detective.

Johnson, who was a Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer before joining the Farmers Branch department, was at his apartment complex the day he spotted two teenagers in the parking lot stealing rear seats from his Chevy Tahoe.

Instead of calling for a patrol unit or backup, Johnson — dressed in shorts and a T-shirt — grabbed his gun, jumped in his car, and chased the suspects. He pursued them into neighboring Addison, where he rammed their Dodge Challenger, forcing it to spin out of control and come to a stop in front of a gas station.

Despite defense claims that Johnson identified himself as a police officer, one witness recounted that Johnson said only one thing before he started shooting: “Woo-hoo!”

The witness, a football player, said, “If I were to make a big hit, I’d make a similar sound.”


Witnesses testified that Johnson was in such a rush — and, apparently, such a rage — that he forgot to secure his own vehicle: As he sprinted toward the suspects’ car, the Tahoe rolled into oncoming traffic.

Within seconds, Johnson began firing at the Challenger. According to reports, he kept firing after yanking open the driver’s side door, shooting until his gun was empty.

The driver, 16-year-old Jose Cruz, was killed, shot in the head. The passenger, 16-year-old Edgar Rodriguez, was injured but survived.

“He just started shooting without saying anything,” said Rodriguez, who lost a finger and required surgery to repair a mangled ear.

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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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