KDLT Home KDLT on Facebook KDLT on Twitter Get the KDLT iPhone App Get the KDLT Android App

Johnson Family Files Lawsuit Against DOC



Bookmark and Share

The family of murdered Correctional Officer Ronald ‘R.J.’ Johnson has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against some of the top officials at the South Dakota Department of Corrections.

In the lawsuit, which was put together by the Johnson family’s attorney, it’s shown that numerous prison policies were violated. That resulted in two maximum security prisoners to be held at a lower security facility, which resulted in Johnson’s death.
   
Former Warden Doug Weber said in the lawsuit filed that Rodney Berget and Eric Robert 'manipulated the system,' to make sure they were put into a lesser security prison. Berget and Robert were both sentenced to death after being found guilty of killing Johnson in April of 2011, during an attempted prison escape.

The 81 page lawsuit is riddled with 'this was in violation of,' and 'lacked these signatures.'

In mid-October the 'Plaintiff’s Statement of Material Facts,' was filed by Johnson's wife, Lynette. In the lawsuit, there are pages of depositions from top South Dakota Department of Corrections Officials and inmates.
     
Amongst the pages is evidence that polices were not followed, which ultimately resulted with two maximum security inmates being locked up in Wes Hall the main prison, rather than the Jameson Annex, the maximum security prison.
     
Documents show as far back as 1995, Berget reportedly had a plan to kill a guard so he could escape. In the lawsuit it’s shown that he repeatedly went on 'hunger strikes' so he could be moved from the Jameson Annex to Wes Hall.
     
Eric Robert was serving an 80 year sentence for kidnapping. He too played the 'hunger strike' card and was also moved.

In the lawsuit, it’s shown that those transfers were wrongfully done.
     
In an After-Incident Report following Johnson's murder, the transfer manager admitted that the DOC 'failed to obtain the appropriate approvals’ for the placement of Robert and Berget. In the depositions it is also shown that former Warden Weber admits that there was no 'factual basis,' and that risk was not considered in regards to the inmates’ placements.

Documents show that in annual assessments Robert and Berget were considered high risk inmates.

The documents also show that Weber admits he personally met with Berget and Robert during their hunger strikes, after which, both began to eat. Both said they wouldn't eat unless they met with the warden. Weber admits in his deposition that the DOC has a policy that prohibits making deals with inmates to end hunger strikes.

Correctional Officer Rebecca Weaver said in her deposition she was also worried that Weber would blame someone else for the decisions made regarding Berget and Robert. At one point she made copies of documents kept on the inmates, fearing they would be changed.

The DOC is working to file a response to the court.

Robert was executed by lethal injection in October of last year. Berget’s death sentence was reversed by the South Dakota Supreme Court in January; however he was sentenced to death again in May. Berget appealed that sentence in July, and his scheduled execution for January 2014 has been delayed.
< Prev Story Back To Top Next Story >
     

SD Trying To Lure Lawyers Into Rural Practice

Federal grant money has long been available for doctors, nurses and ...

Shopping Rush May Continue Till Christmas Eve

The final weekend before Christmas is coming to a close, but the rush ...

Local Christmas Tree Farm Closed For Season

If you still don't have a Christmas tree, you might want to think about getting ...

Angel Tree Shines Light On Sioux Falls Agency  story with video  Dec. 21

Florida Police Officer Fatally Shot  Dec. 21

Firefighters To Give Toys To Hospitalized Children  Dec. 21

Woman Sentenced For Using Personal Data  Dec. 21

Freeman Nonprofit Explores $15M Arts Center  Dec. 21

USDA: SD Nov. Milk Production Increases  Dec. 21

SD Historical Society To Host NASA Webcast  Dec. 21

Officer Fatally Shoots Man In Rapid City  Dec. 21

MOA Officials 'Disappointed' With Protestors  Dec. 20

Reactions To Sony Cancelling, "The Interview"  story with video  Dec. 20

Last-Minute Holiday Shopping At Pop-Up Store  story with video  Dec. 20

Great Bear Reopens After Five-Day Shutdown  Dec. 20

Christmas Comes Early For Commuters  Dec. 20

2 NYC Cops Fatally Shot Inside Patrol Car  Dec. 20

4 Guns Confiscated At IA Airport This Year  Dec. 20

IA Flu Hospitalization Doubles In Recent Weeks  Dec. 20

Police Brutality Protestors At Mall Of America  Dec. 20

KDLT News Archive
     

Last-Minute Holiday Shopping At Pop-Up Store  story with video

With only five days until Christmas, this weekend ...

Man Gets 2 Years For Unregistered Firearm

A federal judge in South Dakota has sentenced a California ...

Police Brutality Protestors At Mall Of America

Demonstrators chanted "black lives matter" as they ...

Local Christmas Tree Farm Closed For Season  Dec. 21

2 NYC Cops Fatally Shot Inside Patrol Car  Dec. 20

Reactions To Sony Cancelling, "The Interview"  story with video  Dec. 20

MOA Officials 'Disappointed' With Protestors  Dec. 20

Rapid City Man Killed In 3 Vehicle Crash  Dec. 20

KDLT News Archive
     

Comeback Coyotes Win At Montana  story with video

MISSOULA, Mont. —Tyler Larson scored six of his team-high 15 points in ...

USD Tops North Dakota For 7th Straight Win  story with video

VERMILLION, S. D.   --  The South Dakota women's ...

Jacks Work Overtime For Dramatic Win At Utah State  story with video

LOGAN, UT --  The SDSU men's basketball team worked ...

Jacks Down Utah State To Win World Vision Classic  story with video  Dec. 21

PENTAGON CLASSIC: O'Gorman Tops Western Christian, Washington Falls  story with video  Dec. 20

O'Gorman Boys Bounce Back Against Watertown  story with video  Dec. 20

Moorhead Wins High Scoring Affair With Northern  story with video  Dec. 20

Roosevelt Rally Falls Short At Pentagon Classic  story with video  Dec. 20

KDLT Sports Stories
     
Back To Top