Police chief says anti-gay behavior by officers not tolerated, says such behavior by investigator is unlikely
DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
BALCH SPRINGS — Balch Springs Police Chief Ed Morris said an investigation into the death of a gay man in his city is ongoing. Answering charges of homophobia in his department lodged by the dead man’s family, Morris said that he doesn’t tolerate that sort of behavior in his officers.
The body of Rodney Johnson was found in his trailer in Balch Springs on Nov. 12.
Morris said that there was no sign of foul play in Johnson’s death but that his department is awaiting test results from the Dallas County medical examiner before proceeding with an investigation. Those results take about three months to return.
Johnson’s sister Duby Redburn said that the officer she spoke to snickered and said, “I don’t know what sort of lifestyle he led,” when describing what he found.
“He was very insensitive,” Redburn said of the detective’s behavior.
Morris made it clear he wouldn’t tolerate that sort of behavior from his officers.
“I don’t think any of my officers would make an anti-gay comment,” he said.
He said that if he thought that any officer was guilty of that sort of behavior, that officer would be in his office immediately and he would take care of it. But Morris said he would especially surprised if he heard it about the specific officer Redburn accused.
Johnson did not show up for work at his job as a security guard at a Bank of America branch on Thursday, Nov. 10. His supervisor became worried when she couldn’t reach him by phone, so she drove to his home. When he didn’t answer the door, she called police.
The supervisor and Johnson’s family have said police never responded to the call.
But Morris said department records indicate that Johnson’s supervisor’s call to police was logged at 2:41 p.m. on Nov. 11, and that a patrol car was dispatched to Johnson’s address at 2:49 p.m. He said that was reasonable response time for that sort of non-emergency “welfare check” call.
Police arrived at 3:03 p.m. at the location, Morris said.
The officer responding to the call reported that there was no odor coming from the trailer.
He asked neighbors about Johnson’s car that was parked in an odd position. Neighbors said it had been there for several days.
Morris said they searched records to see if there were additional calls from the supervisor’s phone number but could not find any, although the supervisor said she had called both 911 and the department’s direct line phone number.
A police department spokesman initially told Dallas Voice there was no record of either call.
Johnson’s body was found the next day when his brother, Roger Johnson, got a call from Rodney’s boyfriend in Canada, worried that he hadn’t heard from him. Roger Johnson used his key to the trailer to enter, and found his brother lying on the floor, face down.
Roger Johnson had said his brother’s body was lying in a pool of blood.
The call record indicates police were dispatched in 30 seconds and arrived in minutes.
Morris said he didn’t recall seeing any blood on the floor in the police pictures taken before Johnson was transported by helicopter to the hospital. But he said the body showed signs of lividity, meaning the blood had settled to the lower part of the body, which indicated he had been lying on the floor for some time before he was found.
Other issues remain unresolved, such as an unauthorized attempt to access Johnson’s bank account the week after his death. But since the original article appeared in
Dallas Voice on Dec. 23, Redburn has been in touch with city officials and has been assured the case is still open.
Last year, Balch Springs had no homicides.
“The crime rate’s been down for the last few years,” Morris said. “We want to keep it that way.”
But he said that if there is an indication from the medical examiner that Johnson’s death was caused by anything other than natural causes, “We will actively investigate.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.