Re: Justice system fails: former La Mesa police officer found not guilty of filing a false police report
The NAACP San Diego Branch is disappointed with the not guilty verdict returned by the jury in the case of former La Mesa police officer Matthew Dages. The Branch believes there was more than enough evidence to convict this former police officer. The justice system failed in this case.
After a video of a violent arrest of a young black male by a La Mesa police officer became public, public protests, a review by the La Mesa Police Department and the San Diego County district attorney led to charges against former officer Matthew Dages for lying on his arrest report. Today, a jury found Dages not guilty of the charges.
The incident started when Dages confronted Amaurie Johnson at a La Mesa trolley stop, with no basis for detention. The young man was not smoking and did not possess any cigarettes. The arrest was unnecessarily violent, and upon review of the incident the La Mesa Police Department did not forward the case for charges and a trial.
The District Attorney reviewed the incident and charged the former officer with filing a false report. The NAACP San Diego Branch recognizes that the District Attorney does not charge police officers for official misconduct very often. However, this case was so egregious that the District Attorney moved forward with a charge.
In spite of the strong evidence presented by the District Attorney, this jury, which as we previously noted lacked diversity and perhaps even interest in the case, returned a not guilty verdict. While we respect and have confidence in the jury system as a whole, the NAACP San Diego branch strongly disagrees with this not guilty verdict. This case demonstrates that the fight for justice must continue.
Brian Bonner, First Vice President
NAACP San Diego Branch