Johnson, 38, had been brought in for suspicion of drunk driving by deputies last summer, ABC13 reports. Johnson alleges he was choked for 30 seconds while being booked for smiling in his mugshot.
Johnson says he always smiles for pictures but was told by deputies to “take the picture right” and “stop smiling”. That deputy allegedly began choking Johnson and was joined by another deputy who began choking him as well.
“He was choked, in front of a room full of people, for smiling. That’s very humiliating,” said Johnson’s attorney, Andre Evans, who has filed a federal lawsuit against the county.
This is how I take my pictures”, said Johnson.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Department says they are often required to help inmates hold up their heads.
“The Harris County Sheriff’s Office believes that proper procedure was followed during the course of Mr. Johnson’s booking. Should any evidence arise to the contrary, proper administrative actions will be taken. At this time, evidence suggests that Mr. Johnson’s pleading does not hold merit.”
Johnson’s attorney insists that deputies were choking his client, not helping him.
“What took place at the Harris County jail that night was a clear violation of my client’s first amendment free speech rights as well as a childish show of excessive force,” said Evans.
Johnson says when he asked for medical treatment he was told to “sit down and shut up” reports the The Houston Chronicle.