Grandmaster Jay found guilty of pointing AR-15 at officers during Louisville protests
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A federal jury has found John Johnson, who also goes by the moniker “Grandmaster Jay,” guilty in his federal trial after being charged on two counts for pointing a firearm at law enforcement officers in September 2020 in downtown Louisville.
During protests, the officers were stationed on the roof of a government building downtown with a group of LMPD officers, while Johnson marched through the city with an armed militia.
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Friday, Johnson took the stand for the second time to answer questions from the prosecution. Johnson was interrogated about his movements in the days and hours before the event. He claims his AR-15 rifle was empty and the trigger was in the safe position when he pointed it, adding that he was only looking around with the flashlight on the gun’s barrel.
During their closing arguments, the prosecution argued that all the jurors needed to know in order to find him guilty was that he used a weapon, and that he intentionally used it in a threatening manner. They said all of the other arguments presented by the defense were just “smoke and mirrors” to make them vote according to their feelings, not facts.
They played clips of Johnson’s videos on Instagram, recorded prior to the shooting, where he urged his followers to knock police officers unconscious, take their body cameras, flip their police cars, and light them on fire, as well as not allow them to enter their neighborhoods. In another video, he made threatening comments to a person who had called him while he was live on his Instagram account. He told the person they would come after him, his family, his church members or co-workers.
The defense argued that these remarks, although inappropriate, were made out of anger over George Floyd’s death. Johnson’s counsel also told the jury that he was being tried because he was a “Black man with a gun.”
The prosecutors response was that there was no connection between the case and Johnson’s race.
His attorney told the judge that his team planned to file a motion for acquittal. He also asked that Johnson be released to await sentencing. The judge declined, stating that the law requires he be detained because of the charge he was guilty of.
As soon as the judge announced the verdict, emotions flared in the courtroom, and several of his supporters could be heard weeping and yelling that they loved him. As they were leaving, they declined to comment.
Johnson is facing up to 27 years in federal prison and can serve no less than seven years. He will be held there until he is sentenced on Aug. 22.
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