Stockton, CA — On an afternoon in Stockton, California, 16-year-old Joseph Lee “Joe” Green walked into a California Stop convenience store to purchase some candy for his little sister who was outside with their mother gassing up the car. However, Stockton police Officer Robert Johnson would make sure this would never happen by savagely beating and then kidnapping Green because he tried to use a damaged bill for his purchase.
This month, a San Joaquin County civil trial jury decided that Johnson used excessive force and violated several constitutional rights of this innocent child when he violently beat him for no apparent reason. Officer Bobby Wong was also found equally responsible for intentional infliction of emotional distress for not intervening to stop his partner.
According to Recordnet.com, the 12-person jury, after a week of testimony, agreed that Green proved his claims against Johnson of assault; battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress; violation of his 4th Amendment rights; making an arrest without probable cause; denial of medical care; violation of the Bane Act that protects him from threats, intimidation or coercion; malice, oppression or fraud.
The jury awarded nearly three-quarters of a million dollars to Green for his false arrest and violent beating. The beating originally took place on February 17, 2011 and it has taken Green and his family this long to see any semblance of justice. This was in spite of the fact that the entire ordeal was captured on the store’s surveillance system.
As KQED reports:
Then 16-year-old Green stopped at a gas station convenience store on Feb. 17, 2011 to buy candy for his 5-year-old sister while his mother filled the car up with gas. Green tried to pay with a damaged bill, which the clerk wouldn’t take. Plainclothes Stockton police Officer Robert Johnson, who was grabbing water with his partner Officer Robert Wong, was waiting in line behind Green.
The store’s surveillance cameras captured a violent altercation between Green and Johnson that played out over the next ten minutes, video that was played over and over again in court last week. The video appears to contradict information in Johnson’s police report on the incident and parts of his sworn testimony in the civil case. The arrest for allegedly trespassing and resisting arrest ended with Green being hauled out of the store in handcuffs, his blood and two front teeth left behind on the floor.
Green had said nothing to Johnson before the cop told him to “get the f**k out of the store,” according to the lawsuit. When the officer yelled at him, he also showed his badge in an attempt to intimidate the boy. However, Green was not intimidated and responded by saying, “F**k you and your badge.” That’s when all hell broke loose after Johnson’s ego was dealt a blow by a punk kid.
As Green tries to walk out of the store, Johnson follows behind him, grabs him from behind and then pulls him back into the store. Johnson claimed he grabbed Green because he was going to arrest him for trespassing.
However, Green’s attorney Charles Piccuta argued that it was absurd for the officer to arrest a suspect for trespassing at precisely the moment he was leaving. What really happened, Piccuta said, was a reaction to Green’s words, according to KQED.
“Anyone who challenges his authority is going to pay,” Piccuta told the jury. “That’s what he did, he paid him back for mouthing out.”
As the video shows, the 130 pound kid was then violently thrown to the ground as the 220 pound cop jumped on his back and began savagely attacking him. For ten minutes, Wong watched as his partner violently attacked a child and then the pair kidnapped him, falsely charging him with a crime.
Left behind on the floor of the convenience store was a puddle of Green’s blood and his two front teeth.
Despite this civil jury finding that Johnson acted with “malice, oppression or fraud,” and that his partner, Officer Wong, failed to stop the excessive use of force and played a role in Green’s false arrest, neither of these officers faced any discipline from the department.
For beating, kidnapping, and falsely charging a child, both Johnson and Wong are currently employed as police officers in the city of Stockton. Last year, Wong was promoted to Sergeant. In 2018, Johnson was selected as officer of the year.
And we call this “justice” in the land of the free.