Manassas Journal Messenger | Man pleads guilty to assaulting police officers

A Yorkshire man shot by a county police officer last July pleaded guilty Monday to assaulting the officer and her partner.

Bruce Delane Johnson, 26, pleaded guilty to two counts of assault on a police officer in Circuit Court.

Prince William County police officer Eric Toto told the court that he and officer Heather Vance went to the home of Johnson’s uncle July 11. Joseph Ellis called police from a neighbor’s house and asked them to remove his nephew from his home, Toto said. When they arrived at 7612 Pine St., Ellis told the officers that Johnson awakened him that morning demanding his car keys. When Ellis refused him, Johnson became threatening, Ellis told the officers.

Toto said he asked Ellis if Johnson had taken any drugs or alcohol. Ellis said Johnson was on something, but he wasn’t sure what.  

Toto and Vance walked to the front door of Ellis’s house. Toto said that as he approached, he heard the wooden door behind the screen shut and latch.

The officers walked around the house to a sliding glass door, where Toto knocked. Johnson answered, said the officers weren’t needed and had to leave his property. Johnson then walked back into the house, so the officers went back to the front porch. Johnson came out on the porch.

“He sized me up,” Toto said. “I began talking.”

But Johnson continued to advance toward the officers, despite their repeated commands to stop, Toto said. Then, he swung at Vance’s face. At the time, Toto wasn’t sure if she had been hit. She was, he said Monday. Toto told Johnson he was under arrest and tried to handcuff him, and the two men began struggling in the doorway. Vance took out her pepper spray and sprayed Johnson in the face, Toto said.

“He began to use both hands to choke me out,” Toto said. Both he and Vance pulled out their batons and began hitting Johnson on the legs and arms.

Toto was eventually able to cuff one of Johnson’s arms, but he broke free and he and the two officers tumbled down the front porch steps, Toto said. The 250-pound Johnson landed on Vance, pinning her legs.

Toto pulled Johnson off Vance, and Johnson fell on Toto. Toto ordered Vance to shoot, he said.

Vance drew her service weapon and shot Johnson in the thigh. He was still standing, but Toto was able to subdue him after Johnson sustained the gunshot wound. As Toto cuffed him, Vance asked Johnson if he was on any drugs. Johnson said he had taken PCP.

After Toto went to Prince William Hospital for treatment of cuts on his face, hand and shoulder, other officers searched the house. They found drug paraphernalia, including several smoking devices in the house. Johnson, who was treated at Fairfax Inova Hospital, tested positive for PCP and THC.

Johnson faces a maximum of 10 years on the two charges when he is sentenced. Originally, Johnson was charged with malicious wounding of an officer, assault on an officer and resisting arrest. The malicious wounding charge was reduced to a second assault charge and the resisting arrest charge dropped in a plea agreement. Johnson is scheduled for sentencing July 21.

“They kept telling him to stop fighting but he didn’t,” Ellis wrote of his nephew. “Finally, it got to the point where they had to shoot him in the leg to stop him. It worked.”




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