Sep. 27—Former Hamilton Police Sergeant Casey Johnson, who pleaded guilty to a felony for a September 2022 crash that happened while he was impaired, and an assault that occurred at a local football game, was sentenced to probation Wednesday in Butler County Common Pleas Court.
Johnson, 41, was indicted by a Butler County grand early this year for the aggravated vehicular assault, OVI and assault for the Sept. 16, 2022 incidents. He was initially charged with felony vandalism after allegedly damaging a Butler County Sheriff's Office cruiser at the scene of a crash in Morgan Twp. He was off duty at the time.
The grand jury declined to indict on the vandalism charge.
Johnson also was involved in an altercation with a girlfriend in the parking lot of Ross High School during a high school football game, police said. Johnson left the parking lot driving the Toyota Tundra that was crashed a short time later.
The misdemeanor assault charge pertains to that incident, according to Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser.
On Aug. 23, Johnson pleaded guilty in Butler County Common Pleas Court to lower charges of vehicular assault, a fourth-degree felony, assault and OVI, both first-degree misdemeanors. The felony charge carried a possible sentence of up to 18 months in jail, and the misdemeanors a maximum sentence of up to 180 days each.
Judge Greg Howard sentenced Johnson to five years probation. He received no additional jail time, unless he violates the terms of probation. Johnson spent three days in the county jail after the incident.
As part of the plea deal, Johnson agreed to surrender and not renew his police officer certification and "not to seek law enforcement employment in any other state or jurisdiction," according to court records.
Johnson's defense attorneys Brad Kraemer and Lawrence Hawkins III indicted in sentencing memorandums that he has been in treatment and is remorseful for his actions.
The case was handled personally by Gmoser, who told the Journal-News the victim of the crash agreed to a reduced plea, saying "I would not have done it without that."
"Yes, I was pounded on by a lot of police officers to plead this thing down to a misdemeanor, and I refused to do that," Gmoser said when Johnson entered the plea. But he did want to take away a mandatory prison sentence because of his past record as an officer.
In 2010, Johnson received the Preservation of Life Award for stopping a man during his attack of a woman with a claw hammer inside a Hamilton apartment. The suspect was beating the woman in the head, after being told by Johnson to drop the hammer, the man continued the beating. Johnson then shot and killed the suspect, according to police.
"I handled the officer involved shooting in which he shot a man who was about to murder a woman with a hammer. He did everything tactically correct. And I know from people I have talked to that has played on his mind also. I have never had that experience myself so I cannot judge if a person is affected by that or not. He did his duty, but that doesn't mean he wasn't affected by his conduct and what he had to do."
Johnson, who had been a police officer since 2004 and in July 2022 was promoted to sergeant, was terminated from his job a couple weeks after the incident.
The termination came after a disciplinary hearing in which Police Chief Craig Bucheit found Johnson in violation of the department's general rules, specifically conduct of unbecoming an officer and conformance to laws.
The injury crash happened about 11 p.m. in the 5900 block of Cincinnati-Brookville Road when Johnson crossed over the center lane and hit another vehicle head-on that was traveling westbound, according to the crash report.
The woman in the other vehicle was taken to an area hospital for treatment of injuries that were not life-threatening.
Johnson was placed in a cruiser during the investigation into the crash, which deputies suspected involved alcohol.