EL CAJON, Calif. — A former La Mesa police officer accused of lying about a controversial arrest took the stand in his own defense Wednesday.
Matthew Dages is charged with lying on a police report in connection with an arrest that sparked protests in San Diego’s East County last year. The arrest took place two days after the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.
The case stems from the May 27, 2020 arrest of Amaurie Johnson near the Grossmont Trolley Station. The encounter quickly escalated, with video of the incident showing Dages grabbing and pushing Johnson onto a concrete bench.
During Wednesday’s cross-examination, Dages said the encounter never should have happened.
“It was something that should have been a 30-second interaction between me and Mr. Johnson and it turned into a lot more than that due to his behavior,” Dages said.
Under cross-examination by the prosecution, Dages was repeatedly asked why he left key details of the encounter out of his report and why, after turning on his body-worn camera multiple times earlier in the day, during this encounter, he waited until it became physical.
Dages was fired from La Mesa Police Department after the incident. He could face up to three years in prison if convicted.