Family angry at Balch Springs PD’s response to brother’s death

Duby Redburn says police failed to respond to the first calls for help, and that an officer made an anti-gay comment while discussing the case with her

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

BALCH SPRINGS — The sister of a gay Balch Springs man said this week she believes the Balch Springs Police Department’s failure to answer a call at his home may have contributed to his death last month. And she claims that an officer’s anti-gay response to her inquiries make her question how thoroughly her brother’s death will be investigated.

Duby Redburn said that her brother Rodney Johnson’s body was found by another brother, laying face down on the floor of his mobile home, in a pool of blood.

But when Redburn spoke to Balch Springs police Investigator Thomas Clements, she said he told her they found her brother sitting at the computer with his pants down. Redburn said the cop told her, “I don’t know what sort of lifestyle he led,” and snickered.

“He was very insensitive,” she said.

And Redburn wondered why calls to Balch Springs police two nights before the body was found went unanswered.

When 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, Cheri Mendoza, became worried. And when she couldn’t reach him by phone, her worry grew.

It just wasn’t like Johnson to just not show up for work, Mendoza said, adding “You could set your watch by him.”

So Mendoza drove to the mobile home park where Johnson lived. Unable to get into the trailer and convinced something was wrong, she called and asked police to help.

Mendoza said she called both 9-1-1 and directly to the Balch Springs Police Department. But no officer showed up.

Mendoza’s calls are not listed on the police report.

Two days later, Rodney Johnson’s boyfriend, who lives in Canada, called Rodney’s brother, Roger Johnson. The boyfriend told Roger that while he and Rodney ordinarily spoke by phone every day, he had been unable to reach Rodney for two days.

So Roger Johnson called his brother, and when he got no answer, he took his key to Rodney’s home and went to check. That’s when Roger went into the trailer and found his brother’s body.

Redburn, who lives in California, this week told Dallas Voice she is frustrated after getting no answers from the police and the delays from the Dallas County Medical Examiner. She is also angry over the officer’s anti-gay comments about her brother.

She said her brother Rodney Johnson was diabetic, but was otherwise a healthy man. She described him as “good, honorable and upstanding.”

Redburn said her brother’s arms were underneath him as if he was trying to catch his fall. He was found naked but she said Rodney always slept in pajamas.

Several days later, Roger found that the mobile home had been broken into. Among the things taken were his sheets as well as jewelry,  a camera and his Bank of America badge. On Monday, Nov. 14, someone tried to access Rodney Johnson’s bank accounts.

Redburn wondered if that was related to the death or if someone simply broke into the home because it was not occupied.

Redburn said the missing sheets bothered her. She wondered if someone had returned to the house to take any possible DNA evidence that might be found or if someone simply used the sheet to carry out other items.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner told the family that test results would take three months to come back, the standard amount of time for toxicology tests to be returned.

Balch Springs police confirmed this week that they had no investigation open. Clements, who was assigned to the case, is out of the office for the week and was unavailable to comment.

The police report doesn’t indicate receiving a call from Mendoza but begins with the call from Roger Johnson on Nov. 12.

The report states that Rodney Johnson advised that “he thinks his brother is dead,” and that “he hadn’t heard from his brother in awhile so he went over there to check on him.”

The account ends two hours later with transferring the body to Dallas County.

Redburn was concerned that Balch Springs police weren’t investigating the death. She said her brother might have died of natural causes, but she questioned the police response to her.

She wondered why the police account of how the body was found differed from what her brother reported. The police report does not mention blood on the floor or position of the body.

Redburn doesn’t know if foul play was involved. She wonders if her brother was still alive when Mendoza arrived at the house. Had police responded to Mendoza’s call, Redburn wonders if her brother could have been saved.

Redburn said she hopes the medical examiner’s report will reveal whether there was a physical attack, if he died of natural causes and why there was no investigation when blood was found.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Is this a gay drunken driving PSA?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been running a series of ads showing a “shadow” cop observing people who have been drinking get in a car, drive and get arrested for drunken driving. (Oddly, the cop always lets them turn on the car, rather than prevent a tragedy by arresting them first. Smells like entrapment to me. Moving on …) There are several ads, including a girl-guy couple stumbling home. But I am most curious about this one, in which four … umm… “buddies” get behind the wheel. Look at the body language and the touchy-feely way they each cling to one other… and the complete absence of any women in the spot.

Is the NHTSA suggesting gays are drunks who engage in dangerous activities, including un-safe orgies? Is this just more Republican propaganda aimed at demonizing the gay community?!?!?  Of course not, don’t be ignorant. But it is kinda, well, sexy. Watch:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Dash-cam video of the fake U.S. marshal who terrorized Oak Lawn last weekend

Above is a report from Fox 4 that includes dash-cam video of the suspect who claimed to be a U.S. marshal and threatened a traffic control volunteer with a laser-sighted semi-automatic weapon early Sunday in Oak Lawn.

The dash-cam video was recorded by the 66-year-old volunteer, Douglas Ervin, who followed the fake marshal after witnessing him make a bogus traffic strop near Wycliff and Lemmon avenues. According to the police reports, the suspect got out of his vehicle near Rawlins Street and Oak Lawn Avenue, approached Ervin and said, “Who the fuck are you?” Ervin responded by saying “Who are you?” before the suspect pushed Ervin’s face in, knocking out his dentures, and aimed the weapon at his head. When Ervin told the suspect he was being recorded, he got back in his vehicle — which had rolled backward down the street because he hadn’t put it in park — and took off. As Deputy Chief Craig Miller explains to Fox 4, it’s not exactly the type of behavior you’d expect from a real cop.

The Dallas Observer has posted an enhanced photo of the suspect, and The Morning News reports that police are looking for other potential victims because they believe the same man may have been arrested in the past for pretending to be a cop.

Anyone with information can call 214-671-3616 or better yet, if this guy’s anywhere near you, 911.

—  John Wright

Fort Gay, rugby slurs and Tea Party hatefulness: Learning the lesson that words matter

Former Tea Party official Tim Ravndal, left, and Olympic champion swimmer Stephanie Rice, right, both learned lessons this week about the power of words.

I have two sons in middle school, so I know for a fact that children call each other names all the time. Some are silly. Like the time the younger son called his older brother a butthead, and the older brother responded with, “Well, you’re a butt-er head.” I don’t think that one came out the way he intended.

But one day, when the younger brother was calling the older one names, the older one responded, “Sticks and stones may break my bones. But words will never hurt me.” Then he hesitated, turned to me and said, “But that’s not really true, is it? Words can hurt a lot.”

Yep, I told him. Words matter very, very much. Below are three examples how they matter:

—  admin