Fire official denies puppy attack in court testimony


A former Los Angeles County assistant fire chief took the witness stand today and denied allegations that he brutally beat his neighbor’s dog without cause.

Glynn Damon Johnson, 54, testified during a preliminary hearing that the dog, a 45-pound puppy named Karley, attacked him suddenly as he walked it to its owners’ home.

Moments later its jaws were clenched on his thumb, Johnson testified.

Fearing his thumb was being severed, Johnson said he picked up a nearby rock and attempted to strike the dog in the head three times — he said he connected twice — and stopped when the puppy released its grip on his hand.

“I was absolutely terrified,” Johnson testified in Riverside Superior Court. “I thought I was going to lose my thumb.”

Johnson said this morning that “there was no alternative” but to hit the dog with the 10-inch rock.

Prosecutors have charged Johnson with a single felony count of animal cruelty for the Nov. 3, 2008 incident on Armintrout Drive in Riverside.

The puppy, a German Shepard mix, was euthanized after the incident.

Three of Johnson’s neighbors testified Tuesday that Johnson appeared to have no reason to attack the dog viciously and without reason.

The neighbors said Johnson struck the dog with his fist and the rock as many as 30 times — far more than the three times Johnson claimed in testimony today.

Johnson said he saw the dog leave its owners’ yard and run through his yard under a fence to an adjoining property. He said he went outside to help the dog back to its yard.

As he was escorting the dog, holding its collar with his left hand, it “turned and started biting and attacking me,” Johnson testified.

The dog first latched its jaw onto Johnson’s left wrist, then released its grip and bit down on his right thumb. Johnson said he heard his thumb making a “pop” sound after the dog clenched its molars.

The incident left Johnson’s thumb nearly severed, requiring six stitches when treated, a physician’s assistant who treated Johnson after the incident testified today.

After today’s hearing, Deputy District Attorney William Robinson declined to respond directly when asked whether he believed Johnson’s testimony was truthful.

“We have a different position,” Robinson said. “That’s clear.”

Jeffrey Toole, Karley’s owner, said he believes Johnson lied on the witness stand. “I truly believe that his intent was to kill Karley,” Toole said.

Toole said he believes Johnson suffered his thumb injury by punching the dog, and catching one of the dog’s teeth with his thumb in the process.

Johnson is set to retake the witness stand Friday morning.

At a preliminary hearing, prosecutors must present evidence to demonstrate there is sufficient cause for a case to proceed to trial.

There is typically no defense testimony at preliminary hearings, but Johnson’s attorney has so far called Johnson, Johnson’s wife, and the physician to the witness stand.

Johnson supervised Los Angeles County fire stations in Pomona, Diamond Bar and other cities in the San Gabriel Valley. He retired about two months after the incident.

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Neighbors detail fire chief’s alleged puppy beating in court testimony


Neighbors of former Los Angeles County fire chief Glynn Damon Johnson detailed his allegedly vicious attack of a neighbor’s puppy during testimony today in Riverside Superior Court.

At today’s preliminary hearing, the neighbors said Johnson, 54, brutally beat the 45-pound dog, striking it repeatedly with his fists and then with a 10-inch stone.

The dog was euthanized after the Nov. 3, 2008 incident on Armintrout Drive in Riverside.

The neighbors’ account was disputed by Johnson’s wife, Bontia Antoinette Johnson, who testified this afternoon that she saw the dog’s jaw clenched on her husband’s hand, and he struck it only two or three times, stopping when it loosened its grip.

Bonita Johnson is set to retake the witness stand Wednesday morning.

Prosecutors have charged Johnson with one felony count of animal cruelty. He is currently free on bond.

At the preliminary hearing stage of a felony case, prosecutors must produce evidence to demonstrate there is sufficient cause for a defendant to stand trial on criminal charges.

Preliminary hearings typically include testimony only from prosecution witnesses.

But Johnson’s defense has already called Bonita Johnson to testify, and Johnson’s defense attorney, John E. Sweeney, said he intends to call additional witnesses Wednesday morning, including possibly Glynn Johnson.

Sweeney has said that Johnson was defending himself against the dog.

During today’s hearing, Sweeney showed poster-sized images of a thumb injury requiring stitches that Johnson allegedly suffered during the incident.

Johnson supervised Los Angeles County fire stations in Pomona, Diamond Bar and other cities in the San Gabriel Valley. He retired about two months after the incident, Sweeney said.

The first witness called by Deputy District Attorney William Robinson this morning was 25-year-old Travis Staggs, who testified that he saw Johnson strike the dog 20 to 30 times.

Staggs, Johnson’s next-door neighbor, said the puppy, a six-month-old German Shepard mix named Karley, ran into his yard the afternoon of the incident, apparently to play with Staggs’ dogs.

Staggs said he grabbed Karley’s collar intending to walk the dog back to its owners’ home next door to Johnson, on the opposite side of Staggs.

After he began walking the dog, Staggs said Johnson appeared at the fence dividing the two properties and offered to walk the dog home.

Staggs said he passed the dog under the fence to Johnson, and watched as Johnson walked with the dog away from the fence.

He said he saw Johnson strike the dog twice in the head with a closed fist. Johnson was holding the dog’s collar with one hand, and punching with the other, Staggs testified.

Staggs said he didn’t see the dog acting aggressive toward Johnson — either before or after Johnson struck the dog.

“She was trying to get away from him — trying to get out of her collar,” Staggs said.

After the first two blows, Staggs said Johnson threw the puppy onto its back, then straddled the dog and continued to hit it with a closed fist.

Staggs testified that he ran to Johnson’s yard, and yelled at him to stop hitting the dog. Johnson didn’t respond, Staggs testified.

After Johnson struck the dog 10 to 15 times with his fist, Staggs said he saw Johnson grab the top and bottom of the dog’s jaw and pull the two sides in opposite directions. Johnson was “trying to break her jaw,” Staggs testified.

Johnson then grabbed a stone from the ground and struck the dog an additional 10 to 15 times with the stone, Staggs testified.

Not once during the incident did the dog act aggressive toward Johnson or try to bite him, Staggs testified.

After the incident, the dog ran away from Johnson’s home and laid down in an open field in the neighborhood, Staggs testified.

“She was injured pretty badly. … She had blood coming out of her mouth, and her tongue was coming out of her mouth,” Staggs said.

Two of Johnson’s other neighbors testified today that they saw Johnson repeatedly strike Karley with a rock.

Stacey and Scott Brown, a married couple who live across the street from Johnson, said the dog did not appear aggressive. They said they did not see the dog attack or bite Johnson.

Scott Brown called Johnson’s strikes with the rock “brutal and violent.” He said he saw Johnson stand over the dog — which he said was motionless — raise the stone over his head, then throw it at the dog’s head.

Johnson’s wife, Bonita Johnson, testified that she was inside the family’s home when the incident started, and went to the front yard after hearing her husband call for help.

Bonita Johnson, who said she was Glynn Johnson’s wife of 30 years, found her husband
struggling on the ground with the dog. She said the tussle was like a “wrestling match.”

“I saw my husband’s right hand in the dog’s mouth,” she testified.

She said she saw her husband try to pry open the dog’s jaws with his hands. He couldn’t get his hand out, Bonita Johnson testified.

He then picked up a rock and struck the dog three times, Bonita Johnson testified. After the third hit, the dog let go of Johnson’s hand, and he stopped hitting the dog, she testified.

Glynn Johnson declined an interview request following today’s hearing. He said he feels he has been “lambasted” by the media and doesn’t want to grant interviews without his defense attorney present.

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Prelminary hearing confirmed in fire chief’s dog-beating case

John Sweeney, Glynn Johnson’s defense attorney, confirmed in a phone interview today that a preliminary hearing will go forward as scheduled Tuesday morning in Johnson’s animal-abuse case. See Friday’s post on the hearing.

Johnson, a Los Angeles County fire chief who supervised stations in Pomona and other cities in the San Gabriel Valley, is accused of beating his neighbor’s puppy with a rock. The puppy was euthanized.

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Suspect in R.C. home burglaries was recently acquitted of murder

One of the reputed gang members charged this month with burglarizing homes in the city was tried and recently acquitted of murder in Riverside County.

Edward Lamar Scott, 20, was among 15 people charged with murder following the February 2006 shooting deaths of two men in Banning.

A Riverside Superior Court jury acquitted Scott of murder on Jan. 16, 2009, but found him guilty of a felony street-gang charge.

Scott was jailed awaiting trial after his arrest on suspicion of murder in February 2006, and was released from custody when he was acquitted of murder. His sentencing in the case is pending.

About three months after his release, Scott and five other people were arrested in connection with a recent string of residential burglaries in Rancho Cucamonga and other affluent communities along the 210 Freeway.

Scott and 16-year-old Anthony Hicks were arrested April 14 in the area of Candlewood Street and Lockhaven Avenue after a neighbor called sheriff’s deputies to report suspicious activity.

When deputies arrived, they saw three men loading a TV into a parked car. Deputies arrested Scott and Hicks at the scene.

The third man — 20-year-old Craisean Ryan Evans — allegedly ran from the scene and was arrested April 17.

Prosecutors have accused the men of burglarizing a home earlier in the day on April 14 in the 7500 block of Center Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga.

Continue reading below.

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Scott and Evans, alleged members of the Edgemont Criminals street gang of Moreno Valley, appeared this morning in West Valley Superior Court for a hearing to confirm Wednesday’s preliminary-hearing date.

The two men declined to waive their constitutional right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days of being charged — a right that defendants routinely waive to allow their defense attorneys time to sufficiently review their case.

The men are each charged with two counts of burglary, and prosecutors have added an allegation that the alleged crimes were committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang.

The gang allegation could potentially add up to five years’ prison time if the men are convicted of burglary.

Scott and Evans rejected plea offers from prosecutors today — offers of 12 years in state prison for Scott, and four to six years in state prison for Evans, said Deputy District Attorney Tom Colclough, who is prosecuting Scott and Evans in San Bernardino County.

They each remain jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Hicks, a minor, is not currently being prosecuted as an adult in the case, Colclough said.

Three other people have been arrested on suspicion of possessing stolen property. Riverside County prosecutors are reviewing that matter for possible prosecution there, Colclough said.

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Prelminary hearing set in fire chief’s dog-beating case

A preliminary hearing is scheduled to be held Tuesday for Glynn Damon Johnson, a Riverside resident and Los Angeles County fire chief accused of beating his next-door neighbor’s puppy with a rock.

The hearing, which will include testimony, has been continued in the past but is expected to go forward as scheduled Tuesday in Riverside Superior Court, a court spokesman said today.

Johnson, 54, is accused of beating his neighbor’s 6-month-old puppy on Nov. 3, 2008. The dog was euthanized because of the injuries.

Johnson, who has been charged with a single felony count of animal cruelty, has said he was acting in self-defense.

Click here for past blog posts on the case.

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