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Former La Mesa officer charged with filing false report in May 2020 arrest

matthew dages-amaurie johnson-la mesa.jpeg
Posted at 9:37 AM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 19:31:54-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The former La Mesa Police officer at the center of a controversial arrest video last year is now facing a criminal charge for lying in his police report of the incident.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced Monday that former LMPD officer Matthew Dages has been charged with one felony count of filing a false report in connection with the May 2020 arrest of 23-year-old Amaurie Johnson.

If convicted, Dages faces up to three years in prison.

The complaint alleges that Dages filed a police report that contained false information regarding the reason for Johnson's arrest as well as his actions.

"When someone in a position of trust such as a police officer commits a crime, it causes tremendous harm and shakes the community’s confidence in those who are sworn to protect them. Everyone is accountable under the law and as we’ve done previously, we will file criminal charges when they are supported by facts and evidence," a statement from Stephan said. "My office’s Special Operations division of specialized prosecutors and investigators is dedicated to the principles of conducting fair, thorough and independent reviews of public corruption and police misconduct cases with the goal of enhancing public trust and pursuing justice."

Last June, video surfaced of the arrest which showed the tense interaction between Dages and Johnson. In the video, Dages is seen shoving Johnson down into a seated position on a bench, and handcuffing him and arresting him at Grossmont Trolley Station.

Johnson was told he was arrested for assaulting an officer. After bodycam video of the arrest was released, La Mesa Police Department dropped charges against Johnson and placed Dages on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Dages was eventually fired by former La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez. Dages' appeal was later rejected by the City of La Mesa Personnel Appeals Board.

In a statement Monday, acting LMPD Chief Ray Sweeney said the department is aware of Stephan's announcement and has cooperated with the DA's Office.

"The La Mesa Police Department is aware of the announcement made by the District Attorney's Office this morning regarding the issuing of charges against former La Mesa Police Officer Matthew Dages. We have worked closely with the San Diego District Attorney's Office over the past several months on this matter. The La Mesa Police Department holds each and every member of the Department to the highest standards of integrity in order to protect and serve our community and keep its trust," Sweeney's statement read.

Dages' arraignment is scheduled to be held remotely on March 9.