Amarillo, TX - The lawyers accusing the Amarillo Police Department of police brutality say the recent internal investigation that cleared all officers involved is a joke.
Attorneys Jeff Blackburn and Ryan Brown claim their client, Robert Johnson, was thrown to the ground and beaten by police for riding his bicycle through a crime scene that was not taped off.
The incident happened on March 28. Police had just arrested a suspect in connection to a double shooting at a home on NE 24th St. About 10 minutes later, Robert Johnson rode his bike into the crime scene.
Police dash cam video captured officers removing Johnson from his bike and pushing him to the ground. He was then hit eight times as police attempted to handcuff him.
Amarillo Chief of Police Robert Taylor said the actions were necessary because officers did not know if he was connected to the shooting. "I find these actions were justified under the circumstances and I have exonerated them from any charges of excessive force," said Taylor.
Blackburn said the findings are a joke. "You can't exonerate yourself," said Blackburn. "I have a little experience with exonerations. What that means is someone who is neutral, someone that has power to decide weighs all the facts and then makes a decision. You don't get to do it yourself. If you got to exonerate yourself, everyone in the Potter County Jail would be cleared or exonerated."
Johnson's case inspired Blackburn to create Amarillo Citizens for Open Government (ACOG), a group that wants a civilian oversight committee to monitor the APD.
Those involved with ACOG said the department's latest investigation only justifies their mission. "We couldn't have a better example of why we need citizen oversight," said Ryan Brown.
"I can honestly say today that I thank God for ACOG that we do have a voice now to bring this out in the open and that is what we are doing," said Rev. Herman Moore.
Blackburn says ACOG is not going away and they will continue to push the City of Amarillo to consider an oversight committee. "I mean, they're dreaming if they think saying the case is closed means no one cares about it anymore. They are dreaming."