Baltimore residents finally got to see justice in a Baltimore police misconduct case. The former officer, Wesley Cagle, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for shooting Michael Johanson during a 2014 arrest. Johanson, suspected of burglary, had already been apprehended by two other officers and was on the ground in handcuffs when Cagle shot him in the groin.
Cagle arrived on the scene, Johanson at this point secured and no longer a threat, and shot Johanson with his .40 caliber service revolver. Johanson immediately asked him “‘What did you shoot me with? A bean bag?’” and Cagle replied, “‘No, a .40-caliber, you piece of s**t.’” Baltimore City States Attorney repeated the exchange between the officer and his victim as she read the indictments during a press conference.
Wesley Cagle was initially suspended without pay in January of 2015. In August 2015, Cagle was arrested on charges of first and second-degree assault, attempted murder and handgun charges. His bail was set at one million dollars. After a quick 5-day trial, he was found guilty of first-degree assault and the use of a handgun in the commission of a violent crime.
“Today’s serious criminal charges against a Baltimore Police Officer happened because our internal investigations worked. When we establish evidence that a police officer commits a crime, our hand in glove relationship with the State’s Attorney Office will ensure justice prevails,” then Interim Commissioner Kevin Davis said in a statement. “The hardworking men and women of the Baltimore Police Department expect public safety leadership to ensure those who put on this patch and wear this badge represent the values of our organization and community.”
“I really didn’t think anything was going to be done about it,” Johansen told Fox 45’s Shelley Orman shortly after Cagle’s arrest. “I’m just happy that they’re doing something about it.”
On November 18, 2016, Wesley Cagle was sentenced finally. The judge handed down a 12-year sentence for the assault and a 5-year sentence for the handgun crime. The sentences are to run concurrently, meaning Cagle is only to do 12 years, instead of 17. After the trial concluded States Attorney Marilyn Mosby said: “Wesley Cagle gives a bad name to hardworking police officers that risk their lives every day.” The prosecutor added, “He abused the power, trust, and authority of his badge and thanks to those colleagues of his that broke the blue code of silence, justice was served for the victim in this case.
Just before his sentence was handed down, Cagle pleaded with Circuit Judge Wanda Keyes Heard for leniency, telling the judge “I will do anything to stay home with my family.” Judge Heard told Cagle that under Maryland state law she was obligated to give him at least the minimum mandated 5-year sentence.
In a city like Baltimore, divided after the trials of six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray, a conviction of this nature is a triumph. Not because an op was arrested, charged and convicted, but because for a change, the blue code of silence did not prevent an officer from being subject to justice. In many such cases, there is a sense of camaraderie between the boys in blue that makes it feel almost impossible to get an impartial statement from an officer who may have knowledge of the misconduct of one of his/her fellow officers.
It is awesome to see justice done in an unarmed police shooting case. The only thing is I can’t help wonder if Cagle would have been convicted had his victim been an unarmed Black man.
Wesley Cagle has 30 days to appeal his sentence and 90 days to request a sentence modification. Cagle served the Baltimore Police department for 15 years.