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CHP officer suspected in husband's slaying was allegedly ordered to take anger management class

A suit filed last year alleges that Tomiekia Johnson, 31, who says she shot Marcus Lemons in self-defense, ignored the department's order to attend the training.

January 18, 2011|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

A California Highway Patrol officer charged last week with killing her husband had been ordered by the department to attend an anger management class, but she declined to go, according to a civil lawsuit filed by the victim's son.

The suit was filed last year — well before the L.A. County district attorney's office charged Tomiekia Johnson, 31, in the slaying of Marcus Lemons. The shooting occurred two years ago in Compton as the couple was returning home from dinner.

Johnson, 31, claimed she fired the gun, which she had gotten from a relative, in self-defense after her husband had attacked her. But after a lengthy investigation, Johnson was arrested last week by homicide detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department at a CHP office in Los Angeles, where she had been assigned since the slaying.

Lemons' son, DeMarco Lemons, sued the CHP and Johnson. Attorney Leon Gilbert, in court documents filed last June, alleges that Johnson robbed the youth of a relationship with his father. In the lawsuit, Gilbert alleges that Johnson was ordered to take anger-management classes but did not attend. The suit says no action was taken by the CHP. Details about why Johnson was assigned to anger management were not contained in the suit, and the CHP declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

Lemons' family and friends had expressed doubts about Johnson's claims of firing in self-defense. They have insisted that Lemons was a peaceful man and that Johnson was known for having temper problems.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty and is being held on $2-million bail.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Natalie Adomian said last week that Johnson "intentionally shot her husband," and the killing had nothing to do with self-defense. "She didn't call 911, her parents did," Adomian added.

Law enforcement sources told The Times that Johnson was outside the car when she fired the shot. The sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because the case was ongoing, said Johnson later told detectives that Lemons had physically abused her in the car. The sources, however, said detectives allege that forensic information gathered at the scene contradicts some parts of her account.

Officials said last week that they immediately removed Johnson from field duty after the shooting.

"These are very serious allegations and are being treated accordingly by CHP management," CHP Sgt. Denise Joslin said. "The department will not tolerate actions by any of its employees that violate the public trust and bring discredit to the organization, its time-honored traditions and its institutional values."

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