An emergency call Wednesday about a man threatening another man with a knife downtown ended with three arrests as a crowd of dozens looked on.
“The caller reported that 41-year-old Tyler Seth Johnson was ‘flipping out’ and had pulled out a knife against another man,” said Juneau Police Department Lt. Krag Campbell in a news release. “Johnson was detained by officers due to the alleged conduct with the knife and for having three outstanding misdemeanor arrest warrants.”
There might have been conflict between Johnson and 47-year-old Adam John Marquardt, who was later arrested, before the officers showed up, Campbell said.
“Sounds like there was an altercation between Marquardt and Johnson about Marquardt’s behavior towards another person that had been in the area,” Campbell said. “We are still looking into this.”
As officers arrested Johnson, a crowd grew on the sidewalk next to the incident, at the corner of Franklin Street and Ferry Way.
“The initial people who gathered were some of the usual people you will see hanging out downtown,” Campbell said in an email. “Others were just people who were just going about their daily business and stopped to look. We are still trying to figure why people gathered like this, and to what all was said.”
As things escalated, the duty sergeant called in all on-duty officers to help stabilize the situation. This brought in all five day-shift patrol officers and roughly four to six detectives.
“One duty sergeant requested assistance due to about 30-40 people that appeared to be surrounding them. Most of these people were just bystanders wanting to stop and look, some film, but others were being aggressive,” Campbell said. “So it’s a very stressful situation to have to try and control with limited people, while making sure the officers are safe to work.”
As the altercation expanded, 31-year-old Willie James Gillen approached the officers, Campbell said.
“Officers warned Gillen that if he did not stop and leave the immediate area, he would be arrested. Gillen walked away, but soon returned acting in the same manner,” Campbell said in the release. “Officers attempted to physically escort Gillen from the area, but as they did so, he flailed his arms at them and had to be restrained. Gillen was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting or interfering with an officer.”
Others dissented, arguing that the use of force was excessive.
“There was no reason to do that to him,” said Steve Kissack, who witnessed events. “It’s just ridiculous.”
After officers apprehended Gillen, several people, including Marquardt closed with the officers, blocking traffick and interfering with the investigation, Campbell said. Officers told Marquardt to move away from the officers and film from the sidewalk, but Campbell said Marquardt continued to act unruly and yell at the officers, while filming. After repeated warnings, an officer pepper sprayed Marquardt before arresting him.
“The officer who used the spray felt it necessary to use, due to Marquardt continuing to interfere with the investigation and not staying back as directed,” Campbell said. “This use of force will be reviewed per our policy.”
All uses of force are investigated per JPD policy, Campbell said. If the initial level of examination finds that the use of force was unjustified, a larger investigation may be opened. Campbell said that
“Even if that involves moving away from an area. Officers will try to give people warnings before taking action, but eventually, if asking people or telling them to do something doesn’t work, and they are violating a law, officers may have to use more than just make verbal requests to get people to obey, which may result in having to physically arrest someone.”
Johnson, Gillen and Marquardt were all taken to Lemon Creek Correctional Center and held on bail, Campbell said.
The situation is under investigation, Campbell said.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or email@example.com.