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Man wants officer who shot him 'to admit that he was wrong,' but not go to prison

Man shot by officer wants cop to 'admit that he was wrong,' but not go to prison

Michael Johansen says he has an uneasy feeling about the criminal charges — including attempted first-degree murder — that were brought this week against the Baltimore police officer who prosecutors say shot him in the groin in December.

Johansen said Thursday that Officer Wesley Cagle was doing his job, even if he made a mistake and acted like "a thug."

Police officers don't have it easy, Johansen said. And if Cagle is found guilty, he said, he'll be taken from his family.

"It'll probably mess with me a little bit if this man goes to prison because of me," Johansen, 46, said on his mother's porch in Pikesville. "I don't care if he does a day in jail. I just want him to say, 'OK, I did wrong,' and maybe not have his job."

Three officers shot Johansen at least five times in the 3000 block of E. Monument St. early on the morning of Dec. 28. The officers were responding to a report of a burglary at a corner grocery store.

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said this week that the first two officers were justified in shooting Johansen because he had refused to heed their commands and had made a move toward his waistband.

But Cagle was not justified in firing his weapon, Mosby said Wednesday, because Johansen was already down and covered by the first two officers.

Mosby said Cagle "on his own initiative" came out of an alley, stood over Johansen, called him a "piece of [expletive]" and shot him in the groin.

She filed charges against the 13-year veteran that included attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault and second-degree assault.

District Judge Halee F. Weinstein set Cagle's bail Thursday at $1 million, based in part on what she called the "heinous and callous nature" of the allegations.

Cagle's defense attorney, Chaz Ball, had asked for bail to be set at $150,000. Cagle posted bond and was released several hours later, according to court records.

Johansen, meanwhile, is free on bail pending an appearance in court Sept. 9 to face burglary charges in connection with the incident at Patel's Corner 3.

He declined to discuss the case in any detail. He said he is nervous about the case but also embarrassed.

"I wish none of this had ever happened," he said.

Johansen has been charged in a series of burglaries and thefts, court records show. He received a 10-year suspended sentence in 2006 for second-degree burglary.

On Thursday, he said he is "no angel."

"I do stupid things once in a while, and I did a stupid thing that night," he said. "But it didn't warrant me being shot."

Cagle made his first appearance in court Thursday after turning himself in. A District Court commissioner initially ordered him held without bond, as required by law for suspects charged with attempted first-degree murder.

Cagle was separated from the other detainees for his bail review. The court permitted him to use a Police Department building as his address. Ball cited safety concerns.

Ball argued that Cagle was neither a danger to the community nor a flight risk, key factors for a judge to consider when determining bail. He noted that Cagle had no prior criminal charges, is a father of four and did not flee during the investigation or after learning he would be charged.

Ball also touched on the allegations, questioning the attempted-murder charge, given that Cagle shot Johansen in the groin.

"That's not an area people go after when trying to hurt someone or kill someone," Ball said.

Weinstein replied: "Had he been shot in the femoral artery, we might be having a different discussion."

Ball asked for $150,000 bail with strict supervision. Assistant State's Attorney David Chiu requested a "seven-figure bail."

Cagle, 45, is the first Baltimore police officer criminally charged in a shooting on duty since 2008. Before announcing the charges against Cagle, prosecutors said they had cleared police of criminal wrongdoing in five of this year's seven officer-involved shootings.

They included the shooting of Keith Davis in Northwest Baltimore in June, a case some activists have protested as an example of police brutality.

Police said Davis tried to rob a cabdriver, fled into a garage and pulled a gun on police. Mosby's office ruled that officers were justified in shooting him.

Davis, who was shot in the face, is scheduled to be arraigned next week in Baltimore Circuit Court, according to court records.

Investigations into the other two shootings this year have not been completed, a spokeswoman for Mosby said.

Police in Baltimore have shot an average of 17 people a year over the last decade. The number peaked at 33 in 2007 but fell to nine in 2014.

Police released a report on the December incident on Thursday. Police wrote that Johansen "broke into store and displayed weapon to officers" on one page, but makes no mention of a weapon on the next page, in a summary of the incident.

The report does not distinguish between the gunfire of Cagle and Officers Keven Leary and Isiah Smith, who it says all "gave several verbal commands which Mr. Johansen failed to comply with" before opening fire.

Mosby said police found no weapon on Johansen.

Police say Johansen was trying to steal $202 worth of cigarettes, $62 worth of lottery tickets and $100 in cash.

Johansen said he spent a month in the hospital after the shooting and had to have his spleen and one kidney removed. In addition to being shot in the groin and the abdomen, he said, he also had a bullet go through his right leg and out his waist, another graze his head and another lodge in his neck after ricocheting off a wall.

He has a large scar up the center of his abdomen, where he said doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital worked on him.

"They saved my life," he said.

He lost 50 pounds, he said, and has trouble gaining weight. Both of his thighs remain numb. One of the bullets tore through part of his intestines, he said, so he has to use the bathroom much more frequently than before. He worries about a bullet fragment still in his spine.

He doesn't like talking about that morning, saying he's embarrassed about it. But since he is "already in trouble," he said, there's "no reason to lie" about it.

His account is not much different from the one prosecutors gave Wednesday.

Mosby said police responded to the scene about 4:30 a.m. Cagle, Leary and Smith went to the side and rear of Patel's Corner 3 while Officer Dancy Debrosse went to the front, Mosby said. Leary and Smith then went to the side door while Cagle went to the alley.

Debrosse looked through the front door of the store, saw a masked man near the cash register and watched him head toward a side door, Mosby said.

Leary and Smith confronted him and told him to show his hands, Mosby said, but he didn't comply and instead reached toward his waist. The officers fired.

Johansen said Thursday that the officers "didn't say one word" to him before opening fire about 15 times, from his count. He said he would never be "so dumb" as to reach for his waist with two officers 10 feet away.

He said he was carrying only his wallet and cellphone, and "wasn't a threat from the jump."

Johansen fell to the floor. While Leary and Smith were covering him with their guns drawn, Mosby said, Cagle walked in and stood over Johansen with his gun drawn.

"What did you shoot me with, a beanbag?" Johansen asked, according to Mosby. Cagle, she said, replied: "No, a .40-caliber, you piece of [expletive]," and fired one shot.

Johansen said Cagle then stepped over him "like I was nothing."

He said he thought he'd been shot with a beanbag because the pain was different from the burning that he felt the last time he was shot, in the leg while being robbed 25 years ago.

He remembers having trouble keeping his eyes open, but doesn't know if that was the pain or the gun flashes going off so close to his face. He said he remained conscious until he arrived at Hopkins.

He believes the "witnesses" cited by Mosby are Leary and Smith because "there wasn't anyone else there," and appreciates that "they stepped up, too, and said what really happened."

His mother, Linda Johansen, said she persuaded her son to talk to internal affairs officers despite his reservations.

"We're just grateful that they investigated as well as they did," she said, "even if it took eight months."

She said the charges brought against Cagle show her son is "being vindicated, that what he said is the truth." But she also worries that Cagle could be facing a long prison sentence.

"That's sad for one mistake that he made," she said.

Johansen said he doesn't have a job and is stilling dealing with pain. But he said he doesn't want Cagle's "life going all the way down the tubes," and doesn't want other officers to "hesitate to do their jobs" because Cagle has been charged.

"There are a lot of police officers that are real good," he said.

krector@baltsun.com

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