Johnson shooting case pleaded out Tuesday

Sep 27, 2016

Reece Johnson, 21, to be released for time served from May shooting in HUD that left his friend permanently injured.

A late night shooting on May 11 in HUD housing left one man facing paralyzation and another in jail. The victim was not cooperative as a witness, and the defendant pleaded to misdemeanor assault on September 27.
Credit KDLG

DILLINGHAM: Reece David Johnson, 21, of Dillingham pleaded guilty Tuesday in a case that involved his alleged shooting of a friend in the back last May.

Johnson and Isiah Thompson were drinking whiskey late on May 10 when Thompson was shot, perhaps after midnight. An hours-long standoff with police ensued until Johnson gave himself up peacefully. Thompson was medevaced to Anchorage and suffered permanent injury from damage to his spinal cord from the .40 caliber bullet. Johnson denied it was he who pulled the trigger.

The state’s prosecutor threw out the more serious charges of first degree assault and weapons misconduct, offering Johnson the chance to plead to fourth degree assault. The agreement called for a sentence of time served, which is roughly 140 days in prison since his May 11 arrest.

Assistant district attorney Andrew Grannik handled the change of plea, and offered few comments about the case. Johnson's attorney Kate Bargerhuff also had little to say about the case, and Johnson chose not to speak.

Magistrate Judge Tina Reigh said she would "cautiously" accept the terms, though she seemed to do so reluctantly.

"I'll be frank I'm just having a hard time with this agreement. Because it's such a serious allegation that's being reduced so significantly," she said.

The main witness in the case, Isiah Thompson, was not cooperative with investigators or with the prosecution, nor did he participate in any of the bail review hearings. The state did not offer comment for why the case was pleaded down to misdemeanor assault.

While Reigh commented that the terms seemed light, she said the four and half months in jail would be sufficient and hopefully put Johnson back on a straighter, narrower path.

"My understanding is this was a friend of Mr. Johnson's, and I would assume that there is some very very serious regret and remorse for what happened, and that alone will hopefully serve as a deterrence from engaging in this kind of activity. Because we certainly don't anyone else to get hurt."

Reece Johnson was appearing telephonically from Anchorage. He was expected to be released immediately and the case closed.

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907.842.5281.