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The Army reservist who killed five Dallas police officers had kept an unauthorized grenade in his room on an Afghanistan base in 2014, according to a report by Army officials investigating a sexual harassment complaint against him. The report released Friday includes new details about an incident that left Micah Johnson stripped of his weapons and removed from his base in disgrace in May 2014. His military career ended soon afterward. His parents have said he was never the same.
The 25-year-old Dallas man was killed July 8 after targeting police during a rally protesting recent police shootings. Carrying an assault rifle, Johnson took multiple positions as he attacked police and threatened to kill more before a bomb-carrying robot was deployed to kill him, authorities have said. Johnson, a black man, told authorities during the attack that he wanted to gun down white officers, police have said.
The Mississippi-born Johnson was in ROTC in high school and would join the Army Reserve. But his military career ended soon after a female soldier reported four pairs of panties missing while the two were at Camp Shank, a base in eastern Afghanistan known as “Rocket City” because the Taliban targeted it many times.
After soldiers found the missing underwear in a dumpster where Johnson had apparently hidden them, a few others were packing up Johnson’s possessions and found the MK-19 grenade in his room, as well as a .50-caliber round and prescription medicine belonging to someone else, the report said.
The Army has blacked out the recommendations of the investigating officer who wrote the report. Soldiers are not allowed to have grenades in their barracks, according to several military experts. Johnson’s superiors could have recommended punishment for stealing government property or mishandling ammunition, said Geoffrey Corn, a former military judge who teaches at the South Texas College of Law. But they may have chosen to pursue the sexual harassment case since it was so strong, he said.
The presence of the grenade also alarmed Patrick McLain, a Dallas defense lawyer and former military judge who was not involved in Johnson’s case. “If indeed he really had panties that belonged to her without her permission, that kind of pales in comparison to having an explosive device or to having someone else’s medication. That’s serious,” McLain said.
Retired Sgt. Gilbert Fischbach, who was Johnson’s squad leader before he deployed and has been highly critical of the military’s handling of the case, said the grenade finding “should have been a red flag.” Fischbach said the military dropped both the protective order sought by the woman in her sexual harassment complaint and her request that he be psychologically evaluated.
The report the Army released on Friday, redacted to black out the names of all involved but Johnson, is only a small piece of the story, said Fischbach. “There will be more documents coming out,” said Fischbach. “I told you it was going to be a smokescreen.”
Johnson’s parents and the woman who accused him of sexual harassment did not return messages Friday. The Army still has not said why Johnson was honorably discharged instead of a lesser discharge, as the lawyer representing Johnson in the sexual harassment case has said he previously expected.
Nor have local or federal authorities detailed what led Johnson upon his return to the US to plan the deadliest attack on American law enforcement since 9/11. Officials in Dallas won’t even confirm if they are still examining Johnson’s body. Records released Friday by the police in Mesquite, the Dallas suburb where Johnson lived with his mother, indicate he had previous disputes with a woman.
One night in January 2011, Johnson walked into the Mesquite police department and appeared upset, according to a police report. Johnson told an officer that “he was lied to by a female friend” and “did not want to get into trouble.” The report, first reported by The Dallas Morning News, doesn’t elaborate on what he meant or name the friend.
Police wrote that he had “displayed unstable mental faculties” but did not want to see a mental health professional or contact his mother. A friend eventually picked him up. The responding officer thought the incident should be documented because of Johnson’s “erratic behavior.”