Police Officer Charged In Texas Teen's Murder Was Off-Duty

Police Officer Charged In Texas Teen’s Murder Was Off-Duty, Broke Department Policy

A Texas police officer has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a teenager and injuring another. The murder and aggravated assault charge resulted in his arrest on Wednesday while the teen’s funeral was occurring.

Farmers Branch officer Ken Johnson was taken into custody by the police and was being held in the county jail. The shootings occurred Sunday evening while Johnson was off-duty and at home in his apartment complex. Officials say he witnessed two teenage boys attempting to break into a car. He attempted to stop the burglary, and the two teenagers left in a vehicle. Johnson gave chase, and the teens spun out at a gas station about a half-mile away. At that time, some type of altercation happened, and John fired his pistol, killing 16-year-old Jose Raul Cruz and injuring the other teen, who is now hospitalized. His name has not been released yet.

Johnson’s attorney, Chris Livingston, could not be reached for comment Wednesday, according to the Associated Press, but has said he was in fear for his life. It has not been stated if the two teenagers were armed or not. Addison Police Chief Paul Spencer says the investigation is under way and may take weeks, but that there was “probable cause” to arrest Johnson. Johnson had been a police officer at the Farmers Branch police department for one year. He has also worked as a police officer for Dallas Area Transit for eight years prior to that. The Addison Police Department refused to comment, but Spencer said that Johnson had no record of officer misconduct and also noted that police officers are not allowed to pursue vehicles off-duty or in their own vehicles.

Officer Johnson, 35, shot the one boy once in the head and once in the ribcage, according to NBC News. He died as a result of those injuries. The second teenager was shot once in the finger.

Addison police chief Paul Spencer made a statement late Wednesday.

“Based on our investigation thus far we had probable cause to make an arrest, but this is a rapidly-evolving situation and it remains an active investigation. Therefore, we are refraining at this time from discussing the evidence collected thus far or about the specifics of this case.”

Johnson was booked into the Dallas County Jail on a bond of $100,000 for the murder charge and $50,000 for the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge and posted bail just before midnight on Wednesday. News of his arrest was announced at Cruz’s funeral on Wednesday, which was attended by hundreds of people. The mourners broke into applause when they heard the news. Family spokesperson Carlos Quintanilla said that the family does not believe that there was any car burglary involved and that Johnson was simply annoyed at the teens. The red Dodge Challenger the boys were in was not stolen, he added.

Cruz’ mother, speaking through an interpreter, said that she would be seeking the death penalty. Cruz’ cousin, Nora Rubi, said the family was relieved that Johnson was arrested.

“We didn’t think he was going to be arrested because he’s a police officer and they have the power. He should pay for what he did.”

Chief Fuller of the Farmer’s Branch Police Department says that policy was broken and that his heart went out to the family.

“This is a tragedy. It’s a tragedy obviously for the family. For the officer. He’s devastated. Our department. You know, it’s a tough situation. We don’t know what happened just before the chase and moments before the shooting. What we can see is a family grieving and two police departments feeling their pain as well.”

[Photo by Farmers Branch Police Department via AP Images]