Marietta police cleared in Black man's death

Marietta police were cleared of any wrongdoing in the September death of 19-year-old Paul Johnson, according to a report released Monday. Johnson died Sept. 21 after he fought with three officers at the Glenbrooke Apartments. According to the report, released by Marietta Police Chief Bobby Moody following an investigation by the Cobb County district attorney, Cobb medical examiner and police internal affairs unit, Johnson died in custody when his heart went out of rhythm. Johnson had an enlarged heart, cocaine in his system and was under stress because of the fight, according to the report, and any of those factors could have led to his death. Moody said the force used by police to subdue Johnson, who was listed as at least 6 foot 3 and 250 pounds in an incident report, was justified and the officers involved have returned to duty. Johnson's mother, Dawn Jackson, reacted angrily to the report. "He didn't have no heart condition. That's just a coverup," she said. "They killed my son. They beat him up and killed him. They're not going to get away with this." Earle Burke, Jackson's Atlanta-based attorney, said he will ask the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether Johnson's civil rights were violated and said that any legal action the family might take would await an independent autopsy he is having conducted. "I'm a little surprised and concerned they might have reached a conclusion without talking to several witnesses they had in custody who we spoke to who gave us a completely different story," Burke said, "including possibly the beating, punching and kicking of Mr. Jackson after he'd been subdued." [more ]
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