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Former Atlanta police officer pleads guilty in aggravated assault of unarmed teen

The Fulton County district attorney said 33-year-old Matthew Johns pleaded guilty to all eight counts today in Fulton County Superior Court.

ATLANTA — A former Atlanta police officer pleaded guilty to the eight-count indictment related to the aggravated assault of an unarmed teenager in 2016. 

Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. said 33-year-old Matthew Johns pleaded guilty to all eight charges today in Fulton County Superior Court.

On September 15, 2016, Atlanta officers were in pursuit of a suspected stolen vehicle traveling along Interstate 75 southbound. 

The pursuit ended along Lawton Street when a Georgia State Patrol trooper, who joined the chase, performed a successful PIT maneuver. 

According to court documents, a 15-year-old male, who was a passenger in the vehicle, exited the car and surrendered himself to authorities by "immediately lying on the pavement with his hands up, showing he clearly did not possess a weapon and did not intend to resist."

Records indicate that the then-nine-year veteran of the department ran toward the young male and proceeded to kick him in the head "three times while he lay prostrate upon the ground."

Johns then "pressed his knee to the neck of the teenager," documents say. 

The teen was rendered unconscious by the assault and received a number of cuts, bruises, a neck strain and a serious concussion as a result of Johns’ actions. 

Johns was terminated by Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields on July 26, 2017. A Fulton County grand jury indicted Johns on October 11, 2018.

Johns' charges included three counts of aggravated assault, aggravated assault strangulation, two counts of giving a false statement and two counts of violation of oath by a police officer.

Johns will be sentenced on July 29 as a result of the guilty plea.


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