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Double indemnity?

If you were a hard-boiled homicide detective searching for evidence of foul play in the home of a man suspected of killing his wife, would a stack of life-insurance papers on the man’s dining table be a big fat clue?

When LBPD Detective Todd Johnson searched my sister’s house on March 4, 2014, he overlooked many clues, including life-insurance papers on the dining table. These documents appear incidentally in police photos, as if Johnson didn’t notice them, and therefore didn’t request additional, detailed photos.

I asked Scott Alan Video if it was possible to zoom in on the documents shown in a specific photo, which you can see in full here. Scott did his best, using software such as Amped FIVE.

Scott wrote: “Once the perspective was corrected and the image enlarged, it is apparent that the document is a State Farm document. It is possible that it is a bill or a statement of the account status. …I was unable to clarify the text on the document any further. This is due in part to how small the document is in the overall, original image.”

The same photo shows the sunglasses with attached Bluetooth earphones that Cain a.k.a. Huck was wearing when he returned from walking the dog, a key point in his murder alibi. Also, the photo shows a credit card on a yellow tablet. Was this the card used to make an online purchase in Dana’s name on the morning of March 3, 2014, which police claimed as “proof” that Dana was alive and well somewhere in her house? I wish Johnson had noted the credit card number because not even Scott’s perspective correction can make it clear.

This stuff was in plain view. If the yellow tablet and credit card had been in focus when the photo was taken, we’d have additional clues to work with. But no. Because Johnson. To me, this is just another example of Johnson’s relentless inattention to detail regarding my sister’s case.

How does he manage to keep his job? A recent report by Jeremiah Dobruck and Kelly Puente in the Long Beach Post suggests intimidation may have something to do with it. After Judge Judith L. Meyer criticized Johnson and his partner in open court regarding a different botched investigation, police paid her a visit to convince her to recant. She obliged, writing a secret letter in praise of the detectives.

Judge Meyer issued the March 4, 2014, search warrant in my sister’s case. On Judge Meyer’s authority, Johnson was commanded to search my sister’s house for evidence of murder. Johnson bungled the search. Who will hold him accountable for his dereliction of duty? No one, it seems, not even the judge.

On the bright side, the article says Johnson has been removed from the homicide unit, confirming what I wrote last year about his demotion. Still, the Long Beach police need to keep him on the force, I guess, because he’s so good at “finding no evidence” of wrongdoing. He’s a perfect fit for Internal Affairs.


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Case of the demoted detective?

LBPD Det. Todd Johnson with Arkansas Razorbacks punter Blake Johnson
LBPD’s Todd Johnson with Arkansas Razorbacks punter Blake Johnson.

A story making the rounds in Long Beach: Todd Johnson, the lead homicide detective on my sister’s case, has been removed from the LBPD homicide detail due to a recent instance of misconduct — something involving an attorney representing Johnson’s son. If true, this adds credence to what I’ve been saying for years: Todd Johnson is a corrupt cop (who helped my sister’s husband get away with murder.)

I spent two days last week playing e-mail ping-pong with a LBPD spokesperson, seeking comment on Johnson’s removal from the homicide detail. The LBPD refused to comment, but admitted that Johnson is no longer assigned to a homicide investigation that he was working on earlier this year. Johnson is still assigned to the Investigations Bureau, according to a department spokesperson. (Click on the name of the LBPD spokesperson to open a pdf of the email thread: Arantxa Chavarria and Nancy Pratt.)

Mugshot from 2015 public intoxication arrest. (click here for source)

I asked whether Johnson is currently assigned to investigate domestic violence cases. This is part of the story I’ve heard, but the LBPD would neither confirm nor deny it.

I’m astonished that Johnson continues to be employed by the LBPD in any role, considering that a judge (in yet another case) called his behavior “appalling and unethical and inappropriate.” Suddenly, it appears that the LBPD and the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office have acknowledged that Johnson is too dirty to serve as a homicide detective in Long Beach. Even so, it’s disturbing that Johnson’s supervisors seem to think he’s fit to handle domestic violence cases.

Detective Johnson with punter Blake Johnson.
Detective Johnson with punter Blake Johnson.

My sister’s case involved extreme domestic violence — a woman murdered in her own home by her husband. Signs of tension and conflict can be seen in surveillance video taken inside their home. Johnson saw it and wrongly concluded that the video showed no issues.

One of my sister’s neighbors told the police she worried that my sister had been a victim of domestic violence. A police officer included this red flag in her report:

“She asked me if Dana was ok. She had seen the police cars and was worried there could have been domestic violence. She said [Dana’s husband] is, “Armed.” She clarified and said she knows [he] has guns in his house because he has told her he has them. He told her he has cameras on his home so if it is ever burglarized there will be evidence he acted in self defense. She kept asking me, “Is she ok?”

Arkansas Razorbacks punter Blake Johnson gestures with his middle finger in a game vs. Missouri Tigers.

Click here to open a pdf of this police report. The statement appears on page five at the bottom of the page. Johnson read it, and ignored it.

I told the police that my sister’s husband was abusive, but Johnson dismissed my statements, too. Johnson’s erroneous conclusions, smug dismissiveness, and face-saving coverups helped my sister’s husband get away with murder.

To me, Johnson’s reassignment to domestic violence cases shows profound contempt for the people of Long Beach. It shows that the LBPD protects their rotten apples at the public’s expense.

UPDATE: LBPD confirmed Johnson’s demotion, as reported on April 18, 2019 by the Long Beach Post: “Johnson has been transferred out of the homicide unit, according to the department, which declined to provide further details.”

Another update: LBPD stated that as of October 3, 2019, Todd Johnson is no longer employed by the Long Beach police.


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