Crime

Police officer who killed armed man near Walnut Park was once accused of using excessive force

Jessica Sheldon | Photo Editor

Joseph Mauro shot and killed Deric Brown, 41, near Walnut Park last week after Brown first fired shots at Mauro, police said.

The police officer who shot and killed an armed black man near Walnut Park last week was once among a group of officers accused of racism and using excessive force while arresting a group of black men.

In August 2014, Elijah Johnson, then 20 and of Liverpool, filed a complaint with Syracuse’s Citizen Review Board, alleging that Joseph Mauro and other police officers used racial slurs and beat him during a wrongful arrest at a party that summer.

Mauro was identified on Wednesday as the officer who shot and killed Deric Brown, 41, near Walnut Park on Oct. 9 during a traffic stop. Police say Brown first fired shots at Mauro, who then fired at least one round of gunshots at Brown.

In Johnson’s complaint filed with the CRB, he alleges that four officers assaulted him: Mauro, John Gunsalus and two unidentified officers.

Mauro is explicitly named a few times in the complaint. Johnson alleged that at one point, Mauro was among three officers who struck him on his back and his left and right sides in addition to punching him in the back of the head and the sides of his face.

Johnson wrote in the complaint that he believed he was racially profiled by the officers, who were all white. The Syracuse Police Department did not return a request for comment on this story.

The incident occurred early in the morning on July 6, 2014, at an after party at 219 Miles Ave., about a mile from the Syracuse University campus, according to the complaint. After police arrived to break up the party, they approached Johnson and six others, who were sitting in a blue Cadillac, according to the complaint. Officers accused Johnson of throwing rocks at police, per the complaint.

When Johnson denied throwing any rocks, an unidentified officer grabbed his arm “and said ‘don’t f*cking lie to me’ and pulled EJ out of the car. He slammed EJ’s back against the car and immediately punched EJ on the right side of the head,” the complaint alleges.

Officers continued to beat Johnson during the incident, at one point even striking and breaking his nose, the complaint alleges. Officers also twisted his arm, kicked him and dragged him across pavement, the complaint alleges.

At least one officer called him the N-word, the complaint alleges.

Johnson was charged with riot, inciting riot, reckless endangerment and resisting arrest, the complaint alleges.

Johnson wrote in the complaint that he believed the involved officers should be fired and said officers in the community should be sensitive to racial issues and not profile black people.

“These officers should be prosecuted in criminal court,” he wrote.

Elijah Johnson Complaint by Michael Burke on Scribd

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