WPD officer indicted in use of force investigation

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Submitted: Tue, 06/24/2014 - 3:55am
Updated: Tue, 06/24/2014 - 3:53pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A Wilmington Police officer has been indicted on two charges related to a use of force investigation involving a teenager.

A New Hanover County grand jury this evening indicted Cpl. James Coley Johnson for simple assault and failure to discharge duties. The charges stem from an incident involving Tyrell Rivers, 16, earlier this year.

“Justice was served on behalf of Tyrell,” said Lytonya Alston, Rivers’s mom.

In court today prosecutors say Johnson put his hands around Rivers’s neck in the back of Johnson’s patrol car. The incident was caught on camera, but the video has not yet been released.

Rivers’s family said they couldn’t have been happier with the grand jury’s decision.

“That’s a step in the right direction,” said Robert Campbell, a family friend and pastor for the Wilmington Ministerial Alliance. “The fact that it’s going to a trial, to me that’s the process at work, and I’m glad that they saw enough there to say that we need to take another look.”

This afternoon Johnson’s attorney Mike McGuinness argued to a judge that Johnson should have the opportunity to testify before the grand jury about what happened, including that he was using police pressure point techniques to subdue Rivers.

Prosecutors argued three fellow WPD officers were set to testify that what they saw in the video was not approved technique. Judge Phyllis Gorham denied Johnson’s motion to testify. A short time later, the grand jury heard the evidence and indicted Johnson.

A judge released Johnson on a $5,000 unsecured bond. His next court date is set for Aug. 11.


  • guest 1234 says:

    The real problem here isn’t Cpl Coley. The real problem is the DA. This kid, like so many before him, will just slide right out of his issue, right through the revolving door that these mutts are so familiar with. The DA is weak, the magistrates are worse. We suffer because of their ineptitude.

    As for the Chief. What does he have to gain by this? Nothing. This is a product of a mole. A mole (or moles) in the department, working to crush the credibility of the chief and the department. With the intention of having him removed to be replaced by their chosen one.
    I’m not advocating hiding issues. Transparency is a must. But to have someone in the background, acting to further their own agenda is causing public confidence to drop, to the point that most likely in the very near future, a good officer will be hurt or killed in the line of duty. Because the DA won’t act with conviction, the mole will leak “information”, and this will turn any issue into a witch hunt.

    This isn’t police corruption. This is a racial issue. The mole benefits. The DA benefits. Hmmmm….

  • kingstonman says:

    Are so many people in this area blind? Can’t anyone see how the criminals are setting things up to push the police into having to get tough on them so they can scream how they were mistreated. Had they complied from the beginning none of what they call “mistreatment” would have occurred. And as times goes by every police officer in our city is going to be reluctant to use any type of force on any criminal that is acting up thus they get turned loose. And that my blind friends is exactly what these criminals are wanting! And when all the families of these criminals, who have screamed how their sweet son has been mistreated, can’t step out their front door without fear of being assaulted, robbed or even killed who will they want to blame then? The POLICE DEPT. for not protecting them. Then who will they run and cry? Oh yeah, the elected DA.
    And by the way I agree with many of the writers in that the DA shouldn’t be a political elected office but a court appointed one perhaps? You can’t have it both ways Mr. DAs can you but then that does seem what is going on.
    Something has to give folks as things are totally out of control now in our city because certain people are going to continually cry out they are being mistreated to get their way so they can continue doing their criminal activities without any fear of being arrested.
    Where are all the law abiding citizens these days? Surely we that are should stand up and shout just a loud as the loud mouths are doing now in screaming “INJUSTICE!”

  • guestwhat says:

    These mutts…. Really? Glad to see Wilmington is still what I thought it was. Don’t be to upset, the jury will acquit him. Remember its Wilmington .

  • Barbara Weaver says:

    this comment is so on the money!! The criminals control the justice system!! The victims pay a price not the criminals!! I don’t care who or what you are if you commit a crime you deserve to be punished. Family as well as so called civil rights groups boo hoo all over the media for their 15min of fame and get these criminals back on the streets, unless of course it happens to them then they are screaming..”where are the police?”. They are sitting in their cars with their hands tied so call your local TV or Newspaper, or maybe the DA’s office and asked them to protect you…good luck with that!! I can see old fashioned justice right around the corner….

  • Gramps1945 says:

    Was the video shown to the Grand Jury, or “described”, by the prosecutor. If they didn’t show it, I wonder why ?

  • Knowledge says:

    Hello Community: It’s me knowledge! It does not matter whether the teenager is a drug dealer, gang banger, liar, thief, black or white, catholic or Jew. It does not matter whether the police officer in question is White, Black, Hispanic Woman or Man. Through our own personal prejudice we quickly lose sight of what is the moral issue. Did the officer use proper procedure for dealing with the arrest, period? Don’t get caught up in why he was arrested because it is not important. Not to imply that we would urge any teenager to get caught up in drugs or any illegal activity. We say that we are not raciest nor prejudice and want people to be united but we do that which is opposite to what we speak. If you want to help the officer or the teenagers family give Justice a chance. Remember, reportedly this teenager did not try to kill anyone or even harm the police officer. We as a community should be grateful that there was video of the incident and that Wilmington’s top police officer (the DA) ordered an investigation. There should be video available in every police car throughout the United States. This is not about one child or one police officer. It’s about every child within this community and every one of us as citizens who might have an encounter with a police officer. Remember, the social aim is to create a more perfect society but we can never achieve this goal if we continue to practice racism and prejudice.

  • Insider says:

    I didn’t see the video so I don’t know if this officer acted appropriately ….but that MUTT deserved everything that happened to him. Both of those brothers are pure trash and they will grow up coating tax payers lots of dollars

  • 45645 says:

    So, here we have a gang member with a criminal history getting caught dealing drugs and fighting the police, and a WPD cop with 24 honorable years on the job has to use minimal force (remember, there were no injuries) to keep the gang banger arrested, and now he is being charged?

    So now all the gang bangers need to do to fight the police is say they have been assaulted and *poof* the cops are suspended and under investigation.

    Oh…wait…this one didn’t even complain. This was all started by the agency wanting to impress the “community” by showing they were all for throwing one of their own under the bus.

    I’m sure the other 250 officers, and the 350 deputies, all see this. Now they are afraid of doing ANYTHING, because their agency and the DA is foaming at the mouth to put a cop in jail. Have fun with that crap.

    The crime in this city is the way it is for a reason. The last officer the DA tried to throw under the bus? His “victim” is now facing attempted murder charges. I’m sure Rivers will be shortly behind him, if he isn’t killed by another gang banger first.

    Your priorities are a bit skewed. No wonder your officers are leaving in droves…working for crap pay and always afraid they are about to get charged for doing their job…arresting the most violent gang banging criminals society has already given up on.

  • RSmith says:

    … you saved me a lot of typing!

  • The Watcher says:

    The media is treating this heroin dealer like he was some innocent victim and the DA and WPD brass are playing to the crowd. It’s no wonder that WPD has the lowest morale of all the area law enforcement agencies in the area. If the officer was black, this would have been handled by the department(if at all) and we would have never known about it. A white officer is a disposable asset. The David brothers are true politicians.

  • deputy25 says:

    spot on.!! i will add that the video wasnt under an audit and ” just found ‘ that way. Someone told them to check the tapes!!

  • TIGERCAT says:

    We want to know when Rivers will go to court on all of his criminal charges.
    Surly they are not going to let him off free of all the charges

  • PublicAvenger says:

    You can indict a tomato sandwich. I’ll reserve judgment, til I see the video. I know a officer has to use force, when an out of control teenager, is swinging his feet, to kick out windows. And can easily kick the officer. “Choking” means grabbing the neck, and deliberately depriving a subject of oxygen. Simply touching, or even grabbing, to stabilize a violent subject’s neck, is a far cry from “choking”.

    You can’t expect the officer to grab the subject’s foot while he’s kicking, or has the potential to kick. It could break his hand.

    I worked with Corporal Johnson for many years. He has always done his duty, and maintained control of a situation. He is a good father. He is a quiet, mild-mannered guy. He would not abuse, nor bully, anyone. By the way, I understand there were no injuries.

  • David Humphrey says:

    I have known Coley for close to 30 years now and find this hard to believe. I also know how hard it is to restrain a violent, out of control person intent on causing harm to others. There are, indeed, pressure points around the neck area that are quite effective in taking the fight out of a violent person without causing permanent injury. So, you have the word of a teenage gangbanger vs an experienced LEO of over 25 years. Hmmmmm

  • Heimie Schmelter says:

    …and it’s easy to tell by the reactions of the people they interview on the news. Happens every time in a case like this. I want to see the video.

  • Johnny dongg says:

    99 percent of the police around here are scumbags, finally cleaning the streets I see!!!

  • guesty says:

    If you have had experiences with that many officers to come up with that percentage, I’d say you are the problem.

  • Heimie Schmelter says:

    …didn’t think exactly like you do!

  • guesty says:

    If you want video for all arrests, get ready for a large tax increase to fund the equipment.

  • zenobia says:

    Because there is video, the teen selling drugs gets justice. With no video, the old drunk fellow who was careening around on his golf cart and who reached for his gun when he heard yelling is simply sent to his grave. I’ll be glad when they have video for ALL arrests and confrontations.

  • Guest Reply Redux says:

    Judges ;-)

  • guest45 says:

    we are already paying a very big premium for very little good out of the police force, looks like money being poured down an endless drain, and yes, all police officers should be required to have a microphone and video recording equipment on them at all times they are on duty, then we will see who the bad guy’s are and it would help to restore confidence in law enforcement, then we will see if it’s bad press or it’s out of control.

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