Press Release on Civil Rights Lawsuit against Shasta County, its SWAT Team, Sutter County, and Sutter County Sheriff Officers

June 2, 2014

OAKLAND, CA (June 2, 2014) — Civil rights law firm Haddad & Sherwin announced today that they have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Bobby Darrell Johnson, Sharon Kay Johnson, Tanya Sueann Johnson, and Tanya’s minor daughter, Angela Johnson. The complaint, filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, names Shasta County, and the following Shasta County Sheriff Department personnel: Deputies Cary Erickson, Tom Flemming, Ray Hughes, David Renfer, and Kyle Wallace; Sergeant Eric Magrini; Detectives Gene Randal, Nick Thompson, and Craig Tippings; and volunteer Dr. Jesse Wells, M.D. The complaint also names Sutter County and the following Sutter County Sheriff Department personnel: Detective Matthew Maples, Lieutenant James Casner, and Michael T. Gwinnup.

The Shasta County SWAT team was reportedly assisting the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office in executing a search warrant at the Johnson home in the early morning on August 13, 2013. No one in the Johnson household was suspected of any crime or supposed to be arrested. Shasta County SWAT drove several military-combat style vehicles to the Johnsons’ home and surrounded the house. The Defendants ordered the Johnsons to come out of their home. Bobby Johnson came out of his home shirtless, and though he was totally complaint, unarmed, had committed no crime and posed no immediate threat to anyone, the Defendants held him at gunpoint and threatened to shoot him. Defendants saw that Plaintiff Bobby Johnson had post-surgery scars on his torso, yet wrenched his arm behind his back causing severe and painful injuries. The Defendants also held Plaintiffs Tanya Johnson and her daughter Angela Johnson at gunpoint. They also severely injured Tanya Johnson’s shoulder when handcuffing her, and threatened to shoot her Chihuahua . After entering the house, the Defendants pointed guns at Sharon Johnson, suffering from cancer, and forced her to get out of her hospital bed, let go of her walker, and hold her hands up—despite her obvious physical illness and disability.

The Shasta County SWAT team’s actions exemplify the disturbing trend of the militarization of civilian police forces in the United States , and the accompanying treatment of unarmed, law-abiding United States citizens as if they were enemy combatants.

The complaint, filed on June 2, 2014 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

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