Wilmington officer testifies in excessive force trial

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — James Coley Johnson, the officer on trial for assault charges, testified in his own defense today.

In the bench trial in New Hanover County, the defense asked their client questions regarding the night he arrested Tyrell Rivers. Johnson said he used appropriate techniques to handle the teen, given the circumstances. He added that Rivers was belligerent that night and appeared to be high on something.

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After a break for lunch, the state cross examined Johnson. Johnson testified that he had worked on a night shift for the majority of his time with WPD. He said during his time on the force he witnessed a good amount of violent crime, but said he never found those situations stressful. Johnson went on to add that he would be more stressed out directing traffic at College and Oleander than delivering a warrant. He’s been on unpaid leave since the incident in 2014.

Johnson was the last defense witness.

Closing arguments in the trial will begin on Friday.