"Get the F*ck Out of My Face:" Profanities, Abuse in Choice Johnson Police Lawsuit

Last year, as we've reported, Denver police officer Choice Johnson was suspended for thirty days over an incident in which he allegedly pushed 29-year-old Brandon Schreiber down a set of stairs near 1Up arcade bar in July 2014.

A few months later, a Civil Service Commission hearing officer tossed the suspension under the theory that the Denver Manager of Safety improperly applied the standard for deadly force incidents to something that didn't rise to that level in determining Johnson's punishment.

The latest? Johnson is now the subject of an excessive-force lawsuit.

The suit, on view below, goes through the Schreiber matter in detail. But just as interesting is the documentation of past excessive-force complaints made against Johnson — as many as eighteen during his Denver Police Department career to date, including nine during the period between June 2004 and July 2007 alone.

The accounts include choking, punching and a slew of profanities directed against individuals who incurred Johnson's wrath. He's said to have told one woman her father was a "faggot" and her mother was a "whore." On another occasion, he's quoted as yelling, "Get the fuck out of my face."

Below, see the lawsuit's accounts of several previous incidents and the minor discipline meted out against Johnson for his actions during them, interspersed with surveillance images from the Schreiber matter. That's followed by the lawsuit.


Bernice Carter alleged that on June 27, she was across the street from the Bash Nightclub, where Officer Johnson was working off-duty. Officer Johnson threw a wine bottle in her hand to the ground, and then took her by the shirt and slammed her on the ground. When Ms. Carter objected, Officer Johnson threw Ms. Carter in a corner and started choking her. Officer Johnson said her father was a “faggot” and her mother a “whore.” Ms. Carter sustained a cut to her eye and a sore throat. Officer Johnson arrested her for Interference, Public Consumption of Alcohol, and Disorderly Intoxication.

On November 1, 2007, as a result of the incident involving Ms. Carter, Officer Johnson received an oral reprimand for failure to report his use of force and a written reprimand for violation of arrest procedures. The allegations of unnecessary force and discourtesy were not sustained.


Tahlia Hinton, neé Hart-Costello, was at Tracks nightclub in Denver, where Officer Johnson was working off-duty. She became involved in an argument with Officer Johnson over her ID. When she asked for his badge number, he refused and told her to “get the fuck out of [his] face.” Officer Johnson then punched her in the face, causing her to stumble backward. Ms. Hinton said she momentarily blacked out and came to with her face pressed against the concrete ground and one arm behind her back.


In November...Officer Johnson arrested Samuel Moore on mistaken identity, even though Mr. Moore had a different middle name than the subject of the arrest warrant and no tattoo as noted in the database. Officer Johnson refused to allow Mr. Moore to explain himself or listen to the other officer on the scene about the database notation. Officer Johnson told the other officer he did not care what was in the database and was going to take Mr. Moore in. Mr. Moore sued Officer Johnson, along with other officers and Denver, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on November 28, 2008.


Denver and Officer Johnson are currently defendants in Lee v. City and County of Denver, et which Plaintiff Elroy Lee, a 76-year-old retired public school teacher, alleges that on September 23...Officer Johnson arrived at his home with two other DPD officers, mistakenly accusing him of possessing a stolen cell phone. Mr. Lee was entirely cooperative with the officers and was attempting to follow one of them into his home when Officer Johnson suddenly and violently grabbed his shoulder, twisted his body around, and grabbed his hand, intentionally bending his fingers so far back that the tips of his fingers nearly touched the top of his hand. Officer Johnson then handcuffed Mr. Lee excessively tightly. In the process of handcuffing Mr. Lee, Officer Johnson forcefully twisted and contorted Mr. Lee’s fingers, hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders in multiple unnatural directions. Mr. Lee was handcuffed for a total of approximately 15 minutes and repeatedly asked Officer Johnson and the other officers to alleviate his significant pain by loosening the handcuffs, to no avail. Mr. Lee was released and never charged with any crime. Later that same day, Mr. Lee filed a complaint against the officers with DPD IAB, which refused to discipline Officer Johnson or the other officers. Officer Johnson’s conduct caused Mr. Lee lasting injuries including to his shoulder.


On June 7...Officer Johnson was working off-duty at the Paramount Theater when he responded to an incident at Marlowe’s involving a disruptive intoxicated party. Video showed that Officer Johnson put the party in a reverse headlock.

Officer Johnson failed to fill out a Use of Force Report after the June 7, 2013 incident. His statement after the incident stated only that he pulled the disruptive party by the legs to help secure him.

On August 19, 2013, Officer Johnson received three written reprimands stemming from his failure to report use of force and failure to request approval for working an off-duty job.


 Reymundo Prado stated to Fox31 Denver that upon hearing of Officer Johnson’s assault of Mr. Schreiber, he thought, “Wow, that’s the exact same thing that happened to me, at the same place, by the same cop.”

Mr. Prado alleged that in 2013, Officer Johnson, while working off-duty at the 1up bar, slammed him against a brick wall, took him to the ground, and kicked and punched Mr. Prado. Mr. Prado suffered a cut above his left eye. Mr. Prado was charged with misdemeanors.

The DPD Internal Affairs Bureau told Mr. Prado’s sister that the 1up had destroyed all footage and that there was no HALO footage of the incident. However, the report in which the allegations against Officer Johnson was not sustained read: “The footage shows Officer Johnson defending himself from the attack.”


Jonathan Miceli and Kaitlyn Anderson alleged that on June 28...Officer Johnson was working off-duty at the Paramount Theater and began searching Ms. Anderson’s purse.

They further alleged that Mr. Miceli asked if Ms. Anderson had given Officer Johnson consent to search her purse. Ms. Anderson said of course not, but Officer Johnson ignored them and continued searching the purse.

When Mr. Miceli then pulled out his cell phone and started video recording the search, Officer Johnson dropped the purse, came up to Mr. Miceli, pushed the phone away, slammed Mr. Miceli into a wall, and called him a “drunk asshole.” Officer Johnson then handcuffed Mr. Miceli and sent him to detox.

Officer Johnson was given a written reprimand for failing to provide his name and badge number when asked, but was absolved of all other alleged violations.

Brandon Schreiber v. Choice Johnson, et. al.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts