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Chief Wahl: Officers acted appropriately during arrest of Devonere A. Johnson

The chief said in an interview with NBC15 News Thursday that the officers were “cognizant to use a minimum and appropriate amount of force” while taking the man into custody.
Interview with Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl
Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 4:23 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl says that the police officers who arrested Devonere A. Johnson, the man who brought a megaphone and a bat into a downtown bar, acted appropriately and “showed a lot of restraint.”

The chief said in an interview with NBC15 News Thursday that the officers were “cognizant to use a minimum and appropriate amount of force” while taking Johnson into custody.

As NBC15 news reported, the 28-year-old was arrested Tuesday afternoon after police say he walked into he Coopers Tavern with a megaphone and a baseball bat, saying “I am [expletive] disturbing the [expletive] out of this restaurant and I got a [expletive] bat.”

Officers attempted to arrest Johnson, and police say he resisted. Johnson was eventually detained in a squad car, but he soon pushed passed officers and escaped, before being tackled by officers, according to police.

Chief Wahl called Johnson’s behavior “concerning.”

"I think the behavior he was displaying both that day and potentially previously days as well at other businesses is really concerning. And I don't think anything we would want to condone or endorse as a community," Wahl said.

Johnson has not been charged with any crimes, according to online court records. Police said they were tentatively charging him with disorderly conduct while armed, resisting arrest and attempted escape.

Bi-racial woman doused in lighter fluid, set on fire

Regarding the incident in which an 18-year-old reported being doused with lighter fluid and set alight while driving downtown, Chief Wahl said that finding the suspects behind the attack a priority, but added that no arrests have been made so far.

"We have detectives assigned to the case, and are following up on it," the chief said. "We have been in contact with the victim and we are going to do a thorough investigation and do everything we can to identify whoever was involved, and take the appropriate action when that time comes."

Varying degrees of police presence during protests

The presence by Madison police officers was noticeably larger during protests in Madison’s downtown Wednesday night. Chief Wahl said that it was a conscious decision following the previous two nights, during which two historic statues were torn down, the City County Building was vandalized and a state senator assaulted.

“We are always trying to do better and fine-tune our response to these very difficult circumstances,” the chief said.

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