A plastic shopping bag, scraps of paper and other debris remain on 19th Street between Q and S streets in Sacramento after emergency responders took a man to a local hospital Oct. 24, 2017 after he was found unconscious in the street. Benjy Egel
A plastic shopping bag, scraps of paper and other debris remain on 19th Street between Q and S streets in Sacramento after emergency responders took a man to a local hospital Oct. 24, 2017 after he was found unconscious in the street. Benjy Egel

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Parents of security guard charged with assaulting homeless person blame son’s employer

By Darrell Smith

dvsmith@sacbee.com

October 26, 2017 04:18 PM

UPDATED October 27, 2017 02:52 PM

The parents of the security guard arraigned Thursday for the alleged assault of a homeless man at a midtown Sacramento Safeway earlier this week said their son had quit the security job at the supermarket two weeks earlier over safety concerns at the site only to be asked back by his employer.

Michael Johnson, 23, is being held in Sacramento County custody on suspicion of assault likely to cause great bodily injury in the Tuesday morning incident that left a transient man unconscious in a local hospital. Johnson, who is on probation for a previous domestic violence charge, is scheduled to return to Sacramento Superior Court before Judge Jaime Roman on Nov. 6 for further arraignment and a bail hearing.

“I want to know why my son is being held in jail for going to work,” said Shirelle Johnson, Johnson’s mother, who, along with father Michael Johnson Sr., was standing outside Roman’s courtroom following the hearing. “They’re charging my son for putting on a uniform. He got on the light rail from Elk Grove and now he’s upstairs behind bars.”

Sacramento police were called at about 10:20 a.m. Tuesday to 19th Street between Q and S streets to find a man unconscious and bleeding in the street. Police officials say the unidentified man was loitering in the store and had been asked several times to leave before Johnson escorted him from the store and threw him to the ground, knocking him unconscious.

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Shirelle Johnson said her son’s employer, Monument Security, should shoulder blame in the incident, saying they knew the Safeway location at 19th and S streets had been a troubled spot for the firm and they were putting her son and other security guards in harm’s way.

“This firm failed my son. That location failed my son,” she said.

Monument representatives were absent from Thursday’s hearing. Scott McDonald, the firm’s CEO, was away from his office and could not be reached for comment, a Monument staffer said Thursday afternoon.

Security guards have had previous scrapes at the midtown Safeway, Shirelle Johnson said, adding that Michael Johnson returned to the job he quit on assurances that he would not be assigned to the location, only to learn that he would be working at the supermarket.

“This isn’t just about my son. This is about people whose lives have been threatened at that location,” Shirelle Johnson said. “This is more than my son’s situation. These people are trying to make a living.”

Johnson remains in custody on $500,000 bail for battery causing serious bodily injury, plus another $10,000 for probation violation.

In December 2016, Johnson was charged with misdemeanor battery, a common domestic violence charge. He pleaded no contest and is on probation, according to records in Sacramento Superior Court. He is scheduled to report back to court in January to show that he has completed a batterer’s treatment program.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith