ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The jaywalking citation is only $15, but Kenya Johnson, 26, is taking it to trial after colliding with a 911 dispatcher in September.
Johnson shared her story with 9Wants to Know.
“I’m trying to stand up for myself,” Johnson told 9Wants to Know. “My main thing about this is finding some type of justice and to prevent this from happening to anybody else.”
Johnson was connected to an attorney with the help of the Denver NAACP.
“It is an insult to injury. She’s sitting there in a hospital bed, hurt by this person, and all of a sudden police come in and say you’re at fault,” her attorney Said Sharbini said.
Sharbini believes Johnson was cited so the 911 operator could avoid liability for medical bills.
“There’s thousands of dollars behind this ticket considering the ambulance ride, the hospital visit, MRIs, X-rays. Stuff like that,” Sharbini said.
“It’s Englewood, which is a predominantly white community, and there’s a young Black girl. And I look at it as--there’s not anybody that’s gonna come to her aid, and support her,” Rashad Younger of the Denver NAACP said.
Englewood Police and Cherry Hills Police declined to comment, citing the pending court case.
The collision - who’s really at fault?
9Wants to Know obtained and reviewed police and accident reports, court documents and six body camera videos from Englewood officers who initially responded to the accident scene on Sept. 17.
The collision happened around 8:30 p.m. at Kenyon Avenue and South Elati Street.
Englewood police documents show a Cherry Hills police officer cited Johnson at the hospital after Englewood police called the agency to conduct the accident investigation “since the driver of the Audi was an employee of the Police Department.”
Englewood 911 dispatcher Heather Cousineau was driving a black Audi. The collision happened as she turned left in the intersection. Coming in the opposite direction was Johnson, who was skateboarding to work.
“As I turned, a skateboarder dressed in dark clothing came down the hill,” Cousineau wrote in a statement to Cherry Hills police. “I did not see the skateboarder until they were in front of my vehicle.”
Both Englewood police and Cherry Hills police noted in their reports that Johnson was wearing dark and black clothing.
In a written statement to Cherry Hills police, Johnson wrote she “was coming from top of Kenyon Ave with my light and headphones.”
However, the investigating officer then noted in his report that Johnson admitted her cell phone light “was not illuminated” during the collision.
Body camera footage shows Englewood police took a statement from Cousineau at the scene, snapped photographs and then visited Johnson at the hospital to get her to sign a medical release form, which they said was part of the investigation.
A judge will decide during a bench trial if the ticket is justified.
Johnson said while she didn’t suffer any broken bones, she is still recovering with a loose knee and other pain and can’t return to work.
She has a GoFundMe set up to help pay medical bills.
The frequency of jaywalking citations
Johnson was cited for “pedestrian failing to yield,” which is commonly known as a jaywalking ticket under Colorado state statute 42-4-803.
A 9Wants to Know review of court data from Colorado’s judicial system reveals this specific citation was issued 308 times throughout the state from Jan. 1, 2018 to Nov. 2, 2021.
Other than the citation given to Johnson, Cherry Hills police told 9Wants to Know its agency has not issued that specific citation over the past three years.
A review of data from Englewood police shows the agency issued one ticket under that law over the past three years.
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