Faith Johnson seeks to set the record straight

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Faith Johnson, Dallas County District Attorney, and Irving citizens hold a meet and greet and discuss many Dallas issues.
(Image: Rachel Hawkins/ NDG)

By: Rachel Hawkins, NDG Staff Writer

“We cannot go to another agency and fire somebody,” Faith Johnson, Dallas County District Attorney said. “We’ve been going around to many groups to try to clear the record and help folks understand what the process is.”

For more than six weeks, many have debated the case involving Dallas police officer Amber Guyger walking into the wrong apartment and fatally shooting Botham Jean, an unarmed black man. Guyger allegedly claimed she thought Jean’s apartment was her own and believed Jean to be an intruder.

Johnson said many people mistakenly thought the district attorney could fire the police officer on the spot, which is not true. Guyger was eventually fired by Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall.

On Oct. 11, Johnson and several Irving citizens held a meet and greet to discuss Johnson’s views, and hopes for the future as she seeks support in her bid for a second term as the Dallas County District Attorney (DA). Johnson was appointed to her position by Governor Greg Abbott.

“That particular shooting took place on the (Sept.) 6th, and of course a lot of people were up in arms,” Johnson said. “The case was turned over to us by the Texas Rangers on Sept. 9. A lot of folks thought people got upset about the search warrant return that was released. They thought that the DA’s office released it and we had nothing to do with it.”

“The only reason why we’re doing this is because I’m so concerned about what may happen once the grand jury hears its case,” Johnson said.

She stated the grand jury can make two decisions. It can either be a no bill, where the Grand Jury would not have enough evidence to pursue the case, or a true bill, where the case can be considered murder or homicide.

“So many people got misinformation, and so many people already decided about what happened and what may not have happened,” Johnson said. “When you talk about a criminal process, once a crime occurs a police officer can then go to the scene and start investigating. If the officer thinks a crime has been committed he or she can either arrest the person or issue an arrest warrant.”

While explaining the criminal process Johnson also stated if a person has an arrest warrant, then they will go to a magistrate will be read their rights and a bond will be set.

“Once that happens the arresting agency files a case to my office,” Johnson said. “That’s the first time the case literally becomes mine. The Texas Rangers filed the case on Sept. 10. So whatever happened before then on deciding whether it’s going to be manslaughter or murder, or if she could turn this up in Kaufman County or not, we got it on Sept. 10.”

Johnson explained most times the DA’s office does not get the opportunity to have the advising police officer and see what the case is, whoever files the case decide and just files.

“However, in this case, I did have a conversation with the Texas Rangers,” Johnson said. “They decide what they’re going to do. So now we have this case. We’re investigating, and we’re continuing our investigations. In fact, we have a special public integrity unit, and that unit is designed to go out and all police shootings. And believe it, or not this investigation is still going on.”

Johnson and the unit want to ensure they have all evidence before presenting it to the Grand Jury. Once they present the evidence to them, Johnson and her team would have to turn the case over to them and step out, and the Grand Jury would make the final decision. Unlike a regular jury, only nine people would have to agree for there to be an indictment issued. Johnson and her team will just have this one opportunity to present the case. She believes presenting it more than once is unjust, and will only be presented on multiple occasions if there is new information.

“We are going to explain the law to the Grand Jury,” Johnson said. “We’re going to let them know what murder is, we’re going to let them know what manslaughter is, and we are going to give them every piece of evidence that we have gathered so they can make the right decision.”

To hear Johnson’s comments for yourself, please watch the video below.