Newly released body cam footage shows a frantic scene as a deputy in Tennessee opened fire on a trailer park home before suffering a panic attack and having to be disarmed by a paramedic.
Sevier County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Johnson didn’t mention the panic attack in his police report, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel, and he’s still on active duty.
Johnson was called to the mobile home park in December 2016 by paramedics after a morbidly obese woman fell. The woman said her landlord, Robin Sutton, and her daughter, Tina Carrie Jo Cody, had stolen her purse. When he arrived, Johnson told Cody not to move, but she took off running. He grabbed her and forced her to the ground. As he and paramedic Blake Gregg held her down, Johnson said he heard someone behind him.
“I heard a male voice coming from a short distance behind me shout, ‘I’ve got a gun, (expletive),’” Johnson wrote. “I turned to notice (a suspect) pacing wildly on the porch of a nearby mobile home and then squat while aiming an object at me that appeared to be a firearm in his hand. I immediately discharged my weapon.”
Without warning, Johnson fired four times at a set of mobile homes where Cody’s boyfriend, 41-year-old Brian Keith Mullinax, was standing. Johnson paused and fired three more times as he ran away from the mobile homes.
“Shots fired,” Johnson said into his radio. “I’ve got a guy with a gun. Give me some help. Shots fired.”
According to court records, Mullinax was holding a cell phone and yelled that he was recording video of the deputy. Johnson walked back over towards Cody, who was being held down by Greg. He yelled at Mullinax.
“Step out and show me your hands! Do it now! Do it now! Get the fuck out here! You drop that (expletive) thing! Walk over here! Walk over here! Do it now!” Johnson yelled frantically, breathing heavily, as Cody yelled in the background while she was still pinned down by a paramedic.
Mullinax dropped the phone and got on the ground, according to records. About four minutes after opening fire, Johnson began to hyperventilate uncontrollably. Paramedic Michael O’Connor was standing next to him and tried to calm him down.
“Pull it together man,” O’Connor told Johnson. “Pull it together,” he said, grabbing the deputy’s arm. “Give me your gun,” he said repeatedly, before taking it from his hand.
“Easy, buddy,” O’Connor said, as he pointed Johnson’s gun toward the mobile homes. “I got it under control. Calm down. It’s OK buddy. We got this under control. We got your back, man. Don’t worry about it.”
Cody said something to the paramedic about Johnson. “You shut the fuck up,” O’Connor said to her. “You shut the fuck up,” she replied.
A minute and a half after he started hyperventilating, Johnson calmed down and took back his gun, though he continued to heave frantically. When backup arrived, the video ended.
Cody and Mullinax spent 42 days in jail for felony charges. According to court documents, they caused Johnson’s panic attack. A detective called it “some type of cardiac event.” A judge has dropped felony charges against the couple, and a grand jury refused to indict Cody for inciting Johnson’s panic attack. She’s still being charged with resisting arrest. Mullinax will face a trial for assaulting Johnson.
Johnson remains on duty. It’s not clear whether the sheriff’s office conducted an internal investigation, or whether Johnson was evaluated or had to undergo counseling or any training following the incident.
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