Boxer Heads Back To The Ring After Long Fight For Justice

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Imagine spending seven months of your life in the Baltimore City Jail, held for a crime you didn’t commit.  It happened to teen boxer Deon Johnson.

Mary Bubala reports why he’s in the fight of his life to make up for lost time.

Deon Johnson, 17, of West Baltimore — a rising star in the world of boxing — was on the path to the 2012 Summer Olympics when his dream took a big hit.

In 2009, Johnson was badly hurt in an incident with city police. He accused officers of knocking him off an illegal dirt bike.

“Skin removed from my body, and I have back pain,” said Johnson.

Johnson sued the officers, won a court battle and a $42,000 settlement with the Baltimore City Police.

As Johnson was recovering and hoping to get back in the ring to pursue his Olympic dream, he says he was thrown a sucker punch. City cops arrested him for the attempted murder of one of his friends.

Johnson’s attorney claims the arrest was direct retaliation for victory in the dirt bike incident.

“I was appalled,” said J. Wyndal Gordon, Johnson’s attorney. “It was the most disgusting situation I could ever have imagined from a Baltimore City police officer.”

Johnson claims officers taunted him about the money he had won, saying he’d never get out of prison to spend it.

“They were interviewing me and talking about my lawsuit situation so I already knew from that how it was going,” said Johnson.

“Officers who investigated Mr. Johnson in this case acted more like mobsters,” said Gordon.

For seven long months, Johnson was out of the ring. His frustration grew as he waited behind bars at the Baltimore City Detention Center. Away from his family, he missed the birth of his daughter.

“I felt like I was a bad father,” said Johnson.

Shortly after Johnson’s arrest, a witness and the victim both said the shooter was not Johnson. The case against him was unraveling.

“They were trying to destroy this young man, they were trying to destroy his career, trying to destroy him as a father, as a friend, as a son,” said Gordon.

On Monday, July 11, the morning of Johnson’s trial, prosecutors dropped all charges.

“It was the best feeling in my life, knowing that I am going to see my family, my daughter, and get back in the ring, the most thing I wanted to do in my life,” said Johnson.

“He suffered tremendously and there wasn’t a single day where he wasn’t in there, that it was just OK to be in there,” said Gordon. “Everyday of being in prison is a living hell.”

Despite repeated calls, the Baltimore Police Department did not comment on this story.

More from Mary Bubala
  • Wendy Stewart

    Thanks for bringing this story to public attention! It makes me all the more anxious to finish training as a youth chaplain so that I can help comfort those in jail and detention, guilty or not.

  • Joel

    Good luck Deon. Keep your head up.

  • Savage RIp

    The Baltimore city police are the worst cowards ever. It disgust me

  • no justice

    imagine spending years in balto. city jail with a bail too high for being falsley accused. it happens all the time!!!!!!!!

  • Wesley Washington

    As an ex-boxer, I can only feel what you have been going through not being in training and the ring as we live for that, now as to the officers and B.C.P.D. everyone has always known that they are not the best at doing their jobs; that they will do whatever they think it takes to close a case or make a FALSE CASE; but now MY YOUNG BROTHER/RING KING, you will need to fight that much harder to get to where you are trying to go for you and your family, especially for your LITTLE PRINCESS. KEEP GOD IN FRONT AT ALL TIMES AND HE SHALL SEE YOU THROUGH…ONE MORE ROUND, TIME TO KNOCK THEM DOWN.

  • Lynn

    This arrest was definitely a case of retaliation from the first lawsuit. I actually see a second lawsuit being filed.

  • common sense

    Instead of slamming the kids where is the outrage that this 17 year old “Kid” is a father? You want to know what’s wrong with your city…this is a gleaming example. But no one is willing or wanting to tackle that issue. Kids having kids who obviously cant afford them is part of the reason this country is failing. Dont worry they’ll be a social program along shortly to feed and house the mother and the child. I’m sure his boxing career isnt going to pay for either.

    Then we act like he’s upstanding citizen of the year but he was “forced off an illegal dirtbike” by city police. So you break the law, the city police deal with it, and you make 40k dollars off of the city tax payers back? Where is the outcry over this? It’s degrades the city for tourist to come and be subjected to these dirtbikes driving like idiots down the middle of the street.

    Lets big picture this one guys and not raise him up based off of one bias article about how this kid is upstanding and a pillar in the community. Everyone that agree’s and pitty this guy gets the city they derserve. Enjoy high taxes, low revnue, employee’s who cheat and steal from the city, and a extream policing.

    • Lady A

      I agree.

      I hope if anything, this will be a lesson to him that breaking the law can lead to world of trouble. An illegal joy ride led to injuries, 7 months behind bars and who knows what else. And I would assume he is not in the running for graduating on time either.

      Too often we make excuses for our selves and our children instead of looking at the bigger picture. At this point, nothing can be done to change the past but there is always opportunity to improve the future. And with a baby in the picture, that is very necessary.

  • rodney

    I hope these statment are misleading because it will be a sad day in the state when we allow this type of activity to continue any criminals should be punished police or not

  • Delores Perry

    they had a young man behind those stink bars for nothing in the real shooter goes free azzzholes keep your head up young man and my GOD BLESS YOU

  • keith

    7 months??????? yes its terrible, but what about ruben carter. he was the #1 contender when he was falsely locked up & tried. and spent nearly 30 years for a crime he did not commit.

    and this 17 yr old father has no legal recourse. if the witnesses had come forth the next day or so, and the police kept him there anyway…then yes. but the criminal police force in baltimore ( and everywhere else it seems ) are covered under the law they swear to uphold that constantley get manipulated and twisted for their (not the citizens) purposes.

    the NWO isn’t coming….ITS HERE!!!

  • BLT

    I Agree With Common Sense…He was riding an ILLEGAL dirt bike…no lawsuit should have been allowed…no payout! Have to get this dirt bikes off the street!

    • Biggamal

      He got a payout for mistreatment from BCPD. If a cop maced you for jaywalking, common sense would be posting under your story, talking about “BLT shouldn’t have jaywalked!”

      Yeah the kid broke the law, but that doesn’t excuse the police from excessive force. If the police didn’t knock him off of his bike he wouldn’t have won anything.

  • BLT

    I Agree With Common Sense…He was riding an ILLEGAL dirt bike…no lawsuit should have been allowed…no payout! Have to get these dirt bikes off the street!

  • Sharon

    He’s a young kid and it was a stupid mistake. We are all kids once and we all made bad decisions. He wasn’t selling drugs, doing drugs or trying to harm anyone. That doesn’t give any police officer the right to assault something as petty as a dirt bike violation. As an adult sometimes we make bad decisions even now. No body is perfect. At least he is attempting to do something positive with his life. Give him some credit for that. Some of you adults sound really immature and stupid. MORONS !

  • common sense

    Assault? How about the kid not break the law…or how about he stop when police attempt to stop him. I’m sure the cop didnt just pull up beside him and knock him off the bike…I’m fairly sure the kid ran from the police which lead to him being physically stopped by force.

    The police can use force to complete an arrest…fleeing and eluding is an arrestable offense. Sounds like the police were doing what they should be doing.

    It’s against CITY POLICY to chase these guys…not against the law. Flee and run from the cops…get hurt and arrested. Simple.

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