Councilman Michael Johnson's Altercation With Phoenix Officer Strains Local NAACP's Patience With Top Cop Jack Harris

Even before this morning's press conference to discuss the alleged abuse of power by an unnamed Phoenix police officer against City Councilman Michael Johnson, we're told that top city officials met with local NAACP President Oscar Tillman, who was on the verge of calling on Harris to resign.

Both City Manager David Cavazos, and Public Safety Manager (a.k.a. Police Chief) Jack Harris, discussed the incident with the Reverend Tillman at the meeting. Tillman tells New Times later that NAACP members here have made one thing clear to him: "It is time to relieve Jack Harris of his position."

Tillman, however, says he's holding off on that call himself -- for now.

At this morning's meeting, Harris pledged to use the best-of-the-best internal affairs officers to investigate the Johnson case, Tillman says.

Calls to Harris were not immediately returned.

The roughing-up of Johnson, who is black, at the hands of the Phoenix cop is just the latest in a series of incidents between minority groups and Harris, but this one may be the last straw.

Johnson was tossed around by a Phoenix police officer this morning as he tried to assist one of his neighbors whose house was on fire.

According to Johnson, the officer handcuffed him and threw him on the ground face-first for merely acting as a good Samaritan and trying to help his neighbor -- an allegation Phoenix police officials aren't disputing.

Tillman says, like most of us, he doesn't know much about the officer involved in the altercation -- including his race -- but that it doesn't matter what race the officer is because "wrong is wrong."

"Once [Johnson] identified himself, there should have been a level of respect shown," Tillman says.

Tillman goes on to say police should treat everyone with respect, but that it's outrageous to treat a 20-year police veteran who also happens to be a member of the Phoenix City Council the way the officer did.

Tillman plans to hold a news conference Monday to discuss the Johnson matter, and the NAACP's stance on Harris.

Judging by our conversation with Tillman today, even if the group doesn't call for Harris' resignation, he won't be a candidate for an NAACP image award anytime soon.

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