KISSIMMEE, Fla. — A Kissimmee police officer was just fired, and cannot be rehired, after he was accused of domestic violence against another member of the force.
Channel 9 investigative reporter Karla Ray first reported on Officer Antonio Johnson’s arrest back in January. She spoke to Police Chief Jeff O’Dell about his decision to fire the officer while the criminal case was still active.
Oftentimes, internal affairs investigations will be put on hold until a criminal case can play out in court. In this case, O’Dell said because the alleged domestic violence victim was also a KPD officer, there was no delay.
Johnson was arrested in January following a fight with his then-5-months-pregnant girlfriend. The report from St. Cloud police noted that the argument over the woman contacting her ex “turned physical when Johnson took the woman’s phone out of her hands and held both of her wrists.”
Now, a just-completed internal affairs investigation revealed that this was just one of the claims of abuse that the victim had made against Johnson.
“I was close to both of them, so it’s almost like a family member, really,” O’Dell said. “It definitely hurt my heart when I heard the details.”
Johnson has pleaded not guilty on felony battery charges, but the alleged victim wrote in an injunction filing that he had broken several of her phones so that she couldn’t call 911. She also claimed that he would grab her by the face and off her feet by her jaw during arguments, noting “the pain was excruciating but never left bruises.” The woman also wrote in the injunction filing that Johnson allegedly pointed a gun toward her and pulled the trigger.
“Thankfully the gun wasn’t loaded, but I thought he was going to shoot me,” she wrote.
“We had a statement from a member in good standing in this organization, and we felt strongly we weren’t going to wait for the criminal process to play out,” O’Dell said about the details in the injunction filing.
The victim in the case later pulled her injunction request because the two were about to have a child. Prosecutors moved forward with the charges anyway.
9 Investigates had reported on Johnson before his arrest. In May 2019, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement looked into him after a teacher at a Kissimmee charter school complained that Johnson handcuffed students and told them they would be arrested.
Internal affairs investigators determined he used his handcuffs on three students during that incident, but at the time, he kept his job.
“We take these things on a cumulative nature when we’re talking about discipline or looking for indicators that an officer’s behavior is going down the wrong path,” O’Dell said. “I believed, at the time, it was an isolated incident.”
Johnson has exhausted all of his union appeals, and he will not be able to get his job back. KPD plans to send the internal affairs file to FDLE in order for action to be taken against his law enforcement certification.
Channel 9 reached out to Johnson’s attorney, but has not heard back.