SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A Sacramento security guard is behind bars accused of using excessive force against a homeless man.
The alleged incident happened late Tuesday morning outside a Safeway in Midtown Sacramento. The guard tells CBS13 he was only doing his job, but police say he took it too far.
“I don’t feel like I should have been arrested,” security guard Michael Johnson said.
In a jailhouse interview, Johnson says he never meant to hurt to the homeless man he’s accused of severely injuring.
“I was just doing what I felt I needed to do to calm the situation down,” Johnson said.
Johnson was working at the Midtown Sacramento Safeway shopping center on Tuesday when he says the man began acting erratically.
“He was being belligerent, he was talking to himself, he was yelling,” Johnson said.
And when he tried to escort him off the property, Johnson says the homeless man fought back.
“He started spitting on me and he called me a (n-word),” Johnson said.
Johnson says he was not armed and was only trying to get the man to leave
“I literally picked him up, put him to the ground and that was it,” Johnson said. “I didn’t punch him, I didn’t hit him, I literally just walked away.”
Police say the man is a transient in his 60s who has been contacted by officers in the past.
Situations where a guard is arrested are rare, investigators say, but the homeless man’s injuries so severe that he may not survive.
“I think there’s a little more to the situation that developed where maybe too much force was used,” said Sgt. Bryce Heinlein with the Sacramento Police Department.
Johnson – who has been homeless himself – says at first he tried to help the man whom he found not wearing any shoes.
“I gave him the socks off my feet because I felt for this guy and it just went all wrong, it just took a turn for the worse,” Johnson said.
Now Johnson says he can’t believe he’s in jail.
“They told me I’m being charged with assault with great bodily harm,” Johnson said.
Police say it looks like excessive force, but Johnson says he was just doing his job.
“I did what I felt was necessary in my training to do. Whether or not that makes me guilty, I don’t know.”
The shopping center property owner told CBS13 there are constant problems with homeless in the neighborhood. He also says police are slow to respond to problems when they’re called.
Johnson, the security guard, is set to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.