TEXARKANA, Arkansas — A woman accused of punching a Miller County Sheriff's Office deputy in the face last year after he gave her a speeding ticket will not go to trial this month as scheduled because of the pandemic.
Susan Renee Johnson, 54, was set for jury selection Nov. 30 before Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson but a recent order from the Arkansas Supreme Court has delayed all trials in the state until at least Jan. 15. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell said the case, like many others, will be put on hold until the contagion is less of a threat.
Johnson was allegedly driving 78 mph in a 55 mph zone when she was pulled over by Miller County Deputy Philip Ray. Johnson was in a black Nissan Sentra on Highway 71 near MC 37 when Ray observed the alleged traffic violation, according to a probable cause affidavit. After turning right onto South Highway 160, Johnson came to a stop in the parking lot of Doddridge Park.
Johnson allegedly jumped out of the car and began running around it, as if looking for a problem. Johnson allegedly claimed the car was "driving funny" and a warning light activated. Johnson allegedly became agitated and began cursing when Ray told her she'd been pulled over for driving too fast.
Johnson allegedly refused to get back in her car when asked for her license and proof of insurance.
Ray said, "Ms. Johnson continued to curse and I warned her if she did not stop, she would be taken to jail," the affidavit states.
Ray wrote Johnson a ticket for speeding, which included an October 2019 date for a court appearance, and gave her back her driver's license. As Ray began to head back to his patrol car, Johnson allegedly called out to him and asked how fast she was going.
Ray closed the door to his cruiser and told Johnson she was clocked at 78. Johnson responded by asking to see the radar in the patrol car. Ray refused and Johnson allegedly asked when he'd last calibrated the equipment.
"I informed her I used my tuning forks this morning," the affidavit states.
Johnson allegedly refused to get back in her car as Ray instructed and continued arguing with him over the ticket.
Ray said, "Ms. Johnson then attempted to walk around me and reached for the driver door handle of my patrol vehicle. I moved my body in front of Ms. Johnson to block her from gaining access to my vehicle," the affidavit alleges.
Johnson allegedly struck the deputy's body camera with her fist and pushed it into his chest. At that point, Ray allegedly grabbed Johnson by her right wrist and told her she was being arrested for obstructing governmental operations. Johnson allegedly used her left fist to punch Ray in the face. Ray cuffed Johnson after taking her to the ground and took her into custody.
Ray allegedly found a loaded 9 mm handgun in Johnson's purse in the Nissan.
Johnson is facing a charge of second-degree battery for allegedly punching Ray in the face. If convicted, she faces up to six years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Johnson is free on a $2,500 bond.