By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The good news for Johnson is that the police still have to have some coherent, fairly specific reason to believe the person they have detained has just committed a crime or is about to. The activity the neighbor or neighbors had complained of took place two days before the police detained Johnson on his own property.
David Davis, the lawyer who successfully represented Donato Garcia against the Dallas Police Department in a bogus arrest case, listened to my description of the Johnson case and then raised these questions: "What crime would he be committing if he's on his own lawn? A report made to the police is not a criminal offense. Taking photographs is not a crime. The question is, what was the basis? They have a right to detain him and ask him questions. But he has the right to not only refuse but to leave, because they have no reason to be suspicious."
Davis cautioned that it's never OK under any circumstances to fight with the police. Even if the arrest itself is wrong, you still don't have the right to fight, unless the police are using excessive force and you believe you are struggling for your life.
Johnson says he did what he always does when he has a panic attack. "First the knees go, and I get this tunnel vision, and then I just slowly go down."
If the police want to, they can go to court and say they were searching Johnson for their own protection and that he pretended to faint in order to resist their search. He can present evidence that he suffers panic attacks and was not resisting deliberately. Even if he gets off, the city will have cost him $5,000 to $10,000 for a lawyer.
This is a soft-spoken engineer who works at home, goes to galleries on the weekends, loves to take pictures and has an odd attraction to security cameras. He was unable to sleep during the week after his arrest, lost 20 pounds and says, "My life has been torn apart."
Because? Because by Mesquite community standards, he is a dark-skinned Iranian sand junkie in odd clothes out walking around. And taking pictures! For which he should have his ass shot.
And the Mesquite police wholeheartedly agree.