HPD officer charged with assault outlines defense

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A former Houston police officer facing criminal charges after a shooting near his home will testify in his own defense unless his case is dismissed, his lawyer said Friday.

Bruce Johnson faces a misdemeanor assault charge and a felony charge of tampering with evidence, accused of kicking a burglar and moving evidence moments after shooting him on Feb. 16.

Johnson was off-duty but wearing his uniform when he confronted Derek Carr, who allegedly had robbed Johnson’s family home minutes earlier in northwest Houston’s Acres Homes neighborhood. 

The two got into a physical altercation, and Johnson shot Carr once in the arm and once in the back.

On Friday, Johnson’s attorney said the officer was responding to a family member’s call about a burglary in progress at his home and would testify in his own defense.

“I can’t stress enough that Mr. Johnson is the victim here,” said lawyer Mark Thering. “I can guarantee you that the citizens of Harris County will hear from Mr. Johnson on the witness stand.”

Johnson was indicted by a grand jury last month after a six-month investigation. Thering said Johnson offered to tell grand jurors his side of the story but was not called. Since grand jury proceedings are secret there is no way to know what grand jurors considered before indicting him.

“I know we are appearing in criminal court, but it’s the same courthouse as Mr. Carr, who is an eight-time convicted burglar has appeared,” Thering said. “It just baffles me.”

Johnson was in court for a routinely scheduled update. He did not comment.

District Attorney Kim Ogg personally announced the indictments on June 22, trumpeting a new commitment to police accountability. Ogg took office Jan. 1.

Prosecutors in the case said Carr, who has been charged with burglary, was carrying Johnson family belongings as well as a 16-inch metal tool. The 42-year-old remains in the Harris County Jail without bail on a charge of burglary — the 11th time he has been charged with burglary since 1992, according to court records.

A bystander’s video recorded Johnson after the shooting as he kicked the wounded Carr about 10 times, prosecutors said.

Photo evidence also showed that Johnson moved the metal tool, which Ogg said was a clear effort to tamper with the scene in a bid to prove a claim of self-defense.

If convicted Johnson could face a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars.

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