Vikings lineman with team following weekend arrest
Oct. 07, 2014
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Tom Johnson practiced with the team as usual Tuesday, following his weekend arrest on misdemeanor trespassing and disorderly conduct charges that his representatives said should be dismissed.
Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings were "still collecting facts" about the incident early Sunday, which police said involved the use of chemical spray and a stun gun on the 6-foot-3, 290-pound Johnson.
According to the police report, Johnson was arrested around closing time when he refused orders by security and police to leave Seven, a downtown steakhouse and sushi lounge. Johnson was booked at the Hennepin County jail and released on a $78 bond.
Johnson was repeatedly told to leave the building, police said, and the chemical spray was used to force him outside after he resisted. Once outside, according to the report, he remained uncooperative and police used the stun gun on him.
Johnson's voice wavered and his eyes welled while answering questions from reporters in the locker room after practice. He declined to speak specifically about the case, deferring to his lawyer, but said "authorities should be accountable" for their actions.
His agent, Bardia Ghahremani, said Johnson's attorney, David Valentini, will "move forward with the proper legal actions" after concluding their investigation.
"We are confident that once the facts of the case are revealed Mr. Johnson will be fully exonerated," Ghahremani said in a statement following a 15-point timeline of the events Johnson's representatives pointed to as evidence that their client was not hostile and did not provoke "excess use of force."
Ghahremani also released a 10-second video he said Johnson took with his phone, showing an officer swatting it out of his hand once he was outside.
According to Ghahremani's statement:
—Johnson was not under the influence of alcohol and was waiting for his valet-parked vehicle in the lobby of the restaurant when he was told to leave because he was wearing the same boots he was wearing in the club.
—Two off-duty police officers were called to help after Johnson questioned the request, and one of them used the chemical spray on him as he was exiting. Johnson gave some money to a security guard who gave him water and a towel. He called a car service for a ride because his vision was still impaired.
—As Johnson videotaped the off-duty police officer asking him for identification, his arm was slapped, knocking the phone to the ground. As he reached for it, the stun gun was used on Johnson between the shoulder blades multiple times, before he was arrested.
Johnson was charged in May with fourth-degree driving while impaired. He has pleaded not guilty in that case, and a pretrial hearing is set for later this month in Hennepin County. He is scheduled to be arraigned on the disorderly conduct and trespassing charges on Oct. 17.
The 30-year-old Johnson is in his first season with the Vikings after playing the last three with New Orleans. He spent time in the NFL's European development league, the Arena Football League and the Canadian Football League before settling in the NFL.
In five games as a backup with the Vikings, Johnson has two sacks, seven quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. Zimmer said the charges would not affect his status this week. The Vikings host Detroit on Sunday.
NOTES: Safety Harrison Smith was held out of practice after he sprained his left ankle last Thursday at Green Bay. Zimmer declined to address his status. If Smith can't play this Sunday, his place in the lineup likely would be taken by Andrew Sendejo. "Harrison is a great football player, a great person, and I need him back there," cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. ... Linebacker Chad Greenway's recovery from three broken ribs is inching along, but he didn't practice Tuesday, either. "Just take it day by day and see how it feels," he said. ... The Vikings signed three players to the practice squad: wide receiver Donte Foster, quarterback Chandler Harnish and safety Pierre Warren. They released quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson from the practice squad.