A Provo law firm issued a press release on Thursday defending an attorney contracted with Mapleton after he was arrested on reports of interfering with police officers last week.
Officers with the Lone Peak Public Safety District arrested Eric Todd Johnson, 58, on Jan. 3 during an alleged dispute where police say Johnson shouted at officers and acted hostile toward them.
However, the police officers were the ones who were “over-aggressive” during the situation, according to a statement from attorney Randall Spencer with Fillmore Spencer LLC in Provo.
“It is ironic and saddening that (Johnson) now finds himself the victim of a false arrest and false allegations that were recently made against him by police officers who we believe to be well-meaning but were certainly misguided,” he wrote. “Mr. Johnson has the highest regard for the peace keepers in our communities and believes his recent interaction is not consistent with the typical professional officers in our community.”
Johnson has worked as an attorney for more than 25 years and helped municipal governments for several small Utah towns including Mapleton, Brian Head, Cedarview-Montwell Special Service District, Manila and Interlaken with their legal responsibilities.
A probable cause report states police officers arrived at Johnson’s residence in Cedar Hills last Friday to discuss a possible weapons offense at Lone Peak High School involving his adult son.
It was near midnight and Spencer stated Johnson had already gone to bed when two police officers rang the doorbell and loudly knocked on the door.
“The officers were aggressive, inquired about the driver of Mr. Johnson’s truck which was parked in the driveway, and demanded to search Mr. Johnson’s home even though they admitted they did not have a warrant,” Spencer wrote.
Although Johnson had invited the officers inside, he reportedly asked them to leave due to their unsettling conduct and attitude, the press release stated.
When the officers refused, Johnson reportedly called 911 where the dispatcher encouraged him to cooperate with the officers. He also learned the officers were investigating reports of someone brandishing a weapon while driving his truck.
“Such an allegation was obviously concerning to Mr. Johnson. No one in his family owned a gun,” Spencer explained.
Sometime later, the adult son arrived home and police reported Johnson yelled for his son to not speak with officers and pointed his finger in the face of one of the officers.
Police said Johnson also pushed past his wife to advance on officers speaking with his son.
“Seeing that Eric was escalating in his behavior, I feared he was going to assault an officer, after he had just pushed passed his wife, and after he was told several times to leave and/or go into the house, I placed Eric in handcuffs and placed him in my patrol vehicle,” the responding officers wrote.
Spencer denies Johnson threatened, touched or pushed past anyone during the incident, adding Johnson simply “wished to counsel with his son fearing that he may be falsely accused by these obviously over-aggressive officers.”
“Mr. Johnson, in his capacity as an attorney, did maneuver closer to his son to advise him of his constitutional right to remain silent and his constitutional right to counsel,” the press release states. “Mr. Johnson was concerned, particularly with the unprofessional conduct of the initial responding officers, that his son would not be treated fairly with whatever was occurring and desired his son to fully understand his rights at that moment.”
Spencer concludes Johnson did not break any laws or obstruct justice during the incident and his son was later cleared of suspicion, according to the press release.
Johnson stated through his attorney he hoped the allegations would be resolved quickly and lead to his exoneration.
“Mr. Johnson believes that the officer’s conduct he experienced is unusual and hopes that the way he was treated is an isolated incident,” Spencer said.