Atlanta cop nearly got away with brutal beating of teen suspect despite supervisor’s concerns
An Atlanta police officer was fired after trying to justify his violent arrest of a black teenager — but one of his supervisors didn’t think his story added up.
Former officer Matthew Johns, who was on the department’s elite Apex Unit, arrived at the scene Sept. 15, 2016, after a stolen car pursuit by Zone 3 officers and the Georgia State Patrol, reported WSB-TV.
Johns wasn’t even involved in the chase, and video shows the U.S. Marine Corps veteran jumping out of a cruiser and rushing toward one of three teenage suspects.
The officer, who is white, is seen kicking the teen in the head multiple times, striking him repeatedly in the side and then kneeling on his neck and punching him while cuffing the compliant suspect.
Johns told investigators afterward that he thought the teen was reaching for a gun, but one of his supervisors doubted his account — and other officers said none of the suspects resisted arrest.
The teen’s family gave photos to WSB that show the boy’s injuries, and hospital records show he suffered a concussion in the incident.
Johns was immediately placed on administrative leave after the incident, but the investigation stalled until Chief Erika Shields reopened the case after taking charge of the department.
Her investigation yielded a 503-page report obtained this week by the TV station, and Johns was eventually fired July 26, 2017.
Three other officers were disciplined for multiple violations, including the policy on pursuits.