Cumberland County judge upholds ban on publicly releasing body-cam footage in Jada Johnson shooting

Monique John Image
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Cumberland Co. judge makes major ruling in officer-involved shooting
A Cumberland County judge upheld an order banning police body-camera footage of Jada Johnson's death from being publicly released.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Cumberland County judge made a major ruling in the Jada Johnson case Wednesday by upholding an order banning police body camera footage of Johnson's death from being publicly released.

However, the judge made some changes giving Johnson's family and legal team more accommodations and freedom in the case.

Johnson's family and legal team now are barred from making any public comment specifically about the contents of the footage. An October ruling said they were barred from making any public comment after seeing the footage.

The family's legal team is also unable to get a copy of the body camera video. Instead, it has to watch the video at the Fayetteville Police Department. But Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons ruled that the police have to comply with any and all reasonable requests from the Johnson team to watch the footage.

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"We know already that the contents of the video are very, very, very sensitive in nature. And so we will review those videos with a lot of caution and care for our clients to make sure that their wellbeing is protected as well," said Xavier T. de Janon, an attorney for Jada Johnson's estate.

The Johnson family's attorneys contested the gag order citing the public interest in the case and argued that it violated their First Amendment. However, attorneys for the officers involved and the Fayetteville Police Department argued that the footage contained sensitive and confidential content.

"There were many confidential issues within the recording that I feel the judge needed to protect," said Parrish Daughtry, an attorney for the officers involved with Johnson's death. "They are very good men that did a very good job, and they are struggling and they pray for the family ... Of course, they regret these events ever had to occur, but they too are dealing with that emotionally."

The Johnson family's legal team said it will continue pursuing a federal lawsuit upon seeing the footage Wednesday.

The North Carolina Department of Justice is investigating the case.