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Man arrested for child abuse after resisting arrest and telling small children to walk in the left traffic lane of I-75

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Joseph Lamar Johnson, 39, of Ft. Myers, was arrested yesterday morning after an early morning traffic stop on I-75 at mile marker 393.

According to the arrest report, an Alachua County Sheriff’s Deputy saw an SUV on I-75 at about 7:30 a.m., traveling southbound at an estimated 100 mph (the deputy’s LIDAR gave a reading of 96 mph after activation).

The deputy initiated a traffic stop, and the driver pulled over on the inside shoulder, with the right side of the vehicle close to southbound traffic. The driver got out of the SUV, and the deputy asked her if everything was okay. She said she was “just trying to get home.” When he asked for her driver’s license, she gave him both hers and a license belonging to Johnson, who was in the vehicle.

A check on the licenses showed that Johnson had an active warrant out of Lee County for a Failure to Appear in December of 2021 on charges of child abuse, fleeing, driving with a suspended license, and violation of pre-trial release, along with a notation of “CAUTION: VIOLENT TENDENCIES.”

While the deputy was speaking with the driver, a K-9 officer arrived. The deputy issued commands to Johnson over his patrol car’s public address system to exit the vehicle. Johnson exited the passenger side of the vehicle but reportedly refused to walk back to the rear of the vehicle. At the time, five children between the ages of one year old and eight years old were in the SUV. Johnson allegedly told the children to get out of the vehicle into the southbound lane of I-75 and walk back towards the driver. The children started walking toward the rear of the vehicle, but the driver reportedly grabbed the one-year-old, then continued walking forward toward Johnson while the rest of the children remained in the traffic lane.

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Johnson then reportedly got back into the vehicle, and the deputies emphatically ordered them to get the children off the roadway. Four of the children got back into the vehicle, and the driver and the youngest child moved off the road.

The K-9 deputy went to the open passenger side door and told Johnson to get out of the car, but Johnson allegedly refused. The K-9 was deployed and bit Johnson’s arm. Johnson allegedly threw punches at the deputy and moved to the driver’s seat, appearing to try to put the vehicle into drive.

Johnson allegedly locked the driver’s side door, but a third deputy, who had just arrived, was able to open it from the rear driver’s side door. The first deputy deployed his Taser, at which point Johnson was removed from the vehicle and handcuffed.

The report notes that while deputies were trying to detain Johnson, the four children were in the rear of the vehicle, screaming in fear while the dog was biting Johnson and Johnson was allegedly punching the deputy. The deputy wrote that in his opinion, this resistance from Johnson “further placed the children in danger” in addition to the danger from standing in the left lane of I-75. The children were not physically harmed.

Johnson has been charged with resisting arrest with violence and five counts of child abuse. He is being held on $50,000 bail.

Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

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