Joseph Green was 16 years when he was violently arrested by two policemen at a gas station in Stockton. The bloody incident resulted in him losing two of his front teeth.
In the aftermath of the incident, he filed a civil lawsuit against the city and the two police officers for false arrest and the use of excessive force, to which he was recently awarded $710,000 by a jury, according to KQED.
The confrontation occurred in 2011 when Green entered the convenience store of the gas station to buy candy for his sister with a damaged bill which the clerk refused to accept. The officers, Robert Johnson and Robert Wong, were also in the store waiting to be served.
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In a footage of the incident that was recorded by the store’s CCTV cameras, Green can be seen trying to leave the store after the money is rejected and also after talking to Johnson. As he makes his way out, Johnson drags him back into the store and forcefully wrestles him to the ground. He can also be seen punching him. The information that Johnson wrote in the police report about their scuffle as well as his sworn testimony in the civil case, however, contradicts the video evidence, KQED reports.
According to Johnson in the report, he instructed Green to leave the store after identifying himself, but Green replied saying “F you and your badge.” Green, however, said Johnson was the one who first instigated their confrontation after telling him to “get the F out of the store.”
Johnson, who also testified, said he told Green he was arresting him for trespassing but nonetheless tried to leave the store, writing in the police report that he resisted arrest.
After Green’s arrest, Johnson returned to the scene of the scuffle and placed shopping baskets near the middle of the aisle in an attempt to show how narrow the area was. The photo of the scene that was attached to the report did not come with an explanation and the repositioning of the baskets was also not mentioned, KQED further reports.
Johnson was found by the jury to have acted with “malice, oppression or fraud.” They also established Wong was complicit in Green’s false arrest and did nothing to stop Johnson’s excessive use of force.
“I don’t know that we would have as strong a chance of winning this case, but for the video,” Green’s attorney, Charles Piccuta told KQED.
Johnson and Wong are, however, still at post as Stockton police officers. Wong was promoted to sergeant last year and Johnson, the officer who slammed Green to the ground resulting in him losing his front teeth, was awarded officer of the year in 2018.
“All the jurors stayed to talk to us. Mr. Green thanked them personally and shook all their hands. The jury was as happy as he was. It appeared they were glad they could help on this case and see that justice was done,” Piccuta told the Davis Vanguard.
“I think it was great for everyone—except for Johnson. After the verdict he just stood all alone at the corner of the hallway upstairs staring out the window. I didn’t even see him talking to his attorneys. He was finally caught and the whole community will know what he did.”