Police say no excessive force used after woman with cancer says she was thrown to the ground

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Three days after a 62-year-old Greenville woman with cancer came forward to media, claiming she was thrown to the ground by police during what she described as a use of excessive force incident at her home, the Greenville Police Department released video that they said proved the opposite.

In a press conference Friday, Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller released several angles of body camera video that showed Cassandra Johnson blocking the door to her Emmaline Street home, verbally telling officers to leave.

The Greenville mother is later seen pushing an officer out of the way, grabbing his arm, before officers took her to the ground.

Shortly after, one of her sons at the home was also taken down after yelling and trying to push officers out of the way to get to his mother. 

Both Cassandra Johnson and her son were arrested for interfering with police.

“The fact that we used force, all I will tell you all we did was take them to the ground to secure them,” Chief Miller said Friday morning to a room full of journalists.

According to Miller, law enforcement responded to the home to help the Department of Probation, Pardons and Parole services (PPP) an arrest warrant for another one of Cassandra Johnson’s sons, Julius Johnson.

Miller added that by law, officers had the right to enter the premises and search for him. 

Agent in charge of the Greenville County PPP, Chad Gambrell, was also at the press conference and explained that Julius Johnson’s last known address was listed as his mother’s Emmaline Street home.

“City officers arrived and were briefed on the situation and approached the home, in which Cassandra Johnson attempted to close the door, on and shove one officer who then handed her off to a female city officer,” said Gambrell.

Earlier in the week on Tuesday, Cassandra Johnson told one television news station in an interview that police used excessive force on her and ignored her cancer prognosis. 

Johnson met with 7 News on Thursday and said she never touched police and that their aggression was violent and unnecessary. 

“He pushed me, shoved me and one police officer, a woman, grabbed me from the front,” Cassandra Johnson said.

Johnson along with local activist and founder of Fighting Injustice Together, Bruce Wilson, went to city hall to speak with a city attorney about the incident.

Later that afternoon, she and Wilson went to the Greenville Police station to file a complaint and request that body camera footage be released. 

“We do not see the necessity to throw someone on the ground of miss Johnson’s age, and her illness,” said Wilson Thursday.

Both Wilson and Chief Ken Miller acknowledged Friday that Johnson was denied access to view the body camera footage on Thursday, until she filled out a FOIA request.

However, two other local activists told 7 News they were permitted to see the video Thursday morning, alongside Chief Miller.

“We discussed information relative to this case and we viewed what footage was available,” Dr. U. A. Thompson said Friday morning at the press conference. Thompson is a pastor and activist. 

Thompson added that after watching the body camera footage on Thursday and again Friday morning in the press conference, it appeared to him that excessive force was not used. 

“It is imperative that you follow the officers command with the knowledge that you will have your day and say in court.”

On Friday evening, Julius Johnson turned himself in to Greenville Police, saying goodbye to his mother and five children. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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