Pandemic puts trial on hold for woman accused of punching deputy over speeding ticket

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A jury trial slated for the end of the month for a woman accused of punching a Miller County deputy because of a speeding ticket has been put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Susan Renee Johnson, 54, is accused of punching Deputy Philip Ray in his chest and face following a traffic stop Sept. 23, 2019. She is charged with battery and faces up to six years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Johnson was allegedly driving 78 miles per hour in a 55 zone on the morning of Sept. 23, 2019, according to a probable cause affidavit. Johnson was driving a black Nissan Sentra on Highway 71 near Miller County 37. As Ray pulled her over, Johnson turned on highway 160 and stopped in the Doddridge Park parking lot.

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Johnson reportedly got out of her car immediately and began walking around it, as if it “had a malfunction.” Johnson claimed the car was driving erratically.

When Ray told Johnson she had been stopped for speeding, she allegedly began to curse. Johnson allegedly continued to behave in an agitated manner and curse at Ray.

Ray wrote Johnson a citation for speeding and gave her back her driver’s license. As Ray began to walk back to his patrol car, Johnson allegedly asked him how fast she was going.

Johnson allegedly asked to see the radar unit in Ray’s car. Ray refused and Johnson asked when he last calibrated the unit.

“I instructed Ms. Johnson to have a seat back in her car. Ms. Johnson refused and continued to argue with me,” according to the affidavit.

Johnson allegedly refused to return to her car a second time before she attempted to walk around Ray and reach for the door handle of his patrol car. Ray moved to block Johnson from getting in the patrol car and again ordered her back to her car.

“Ms. Johnson then struck my Watch Guard Vista Body Camera with her left hand and pushed it into my chest,” the affidavit states. “I then grabbed Ms. Johnson’s right wrist and told her she was under arrest for obstructing governmental operations. Ms. Johnson then attempted to pull away from me. While I had her right wrist, Ms. Johnson turned and faced me and punched me with her left hand in the right side of my chin. I was then able to gain control of Ms. Johnson’s right arm in an arm bar and assisted her to the ground.”

Johnson was taken to a Texarkana hospital after complaining of an injury to her arm. After being cleared by the hospital, Johnson was booked into the Miller County jail.

Ray allegedly found a loaded 9 mm handgun with one round in the chamber in Johnson’s purse, which was on the passenger seat of her car.

Johnson’s case will be rescheduled for jury selection in 2021. An order from the Arkansas Supreme Court suspends jury trials until January 15.

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