A woman who says her arm was broken when man pushed her down in the Walmart parking lot is suing the store, the county, the City of Whitesburg and a constable who was also working as a city police officer.
Tonya Stallard, who was pregnant when the incident occurred on or about October 23, 2019, claims in her lawsuit that District 2 Constable Austin Johnson is related to the people she says assaulted and threatened her, and that he handcuffed her and threatened to arrest her after Johnny Johnson, of Rocky Hollow in Jenkins, also known as John Preston Johnson II, pointed a gun at her and pushed her to the ground. The incidents allegedly occurred during a dispute over where Stallard’s mother left a shopping cart in the parking lot.
Johnny Johnson was allowed to leave the scene and keep his handgun. The Letcher County Sheriff’s Department arrested him the next day after an investigation requested by County Attorney Jamie Hatton.
Stallard is suing County Judge/ Executive Terry Adams and all five magistrates both as individuals and in their official capacities, saying that as a constable, Austin Johnson works for them and that they were responsible for his actions. She is also suing the Whitesburg Police Department, which employs Austin Johnson. Walmart is named for what Stallard claims was negligence in not making sure its parking lot was safe.
Walmart is the only respondent that had.led an answer to the suit at press time.The company’s attorney in Louisville, Jennifer Adams, filed an answer denying everything and requesting that Stallard pay attorney fees for the trouble.
According to police reports at the time and the lawsuit, Stallard and her mother had just loaded their car with items purchased at Walmart, when her mother offered to take the shopping buggy back to the store’s buggy rack because Tonya Stallard was pregnant. The suit claims her mother stopped before reaching the buggy return because she was already tired, when Johnny Johnson and Kris Johnson drove up in a pickup truck and began shouting and cursing at her mother. In her suit, Stallard said when she got out of her vehicle to see what was happening, they began cursing and threatening her, also, and that Johnny Johnson retrieved a gun from his vehicle and began pointing it at them and at bystanders.
Stallard claims she started to go back to her vehicle and Johnny Johnson approached, telling her he wanted to apologize. Instead, she said, he shoved her down on the asphalt, breaking her arm and wrist, which required reconstructive surgery.
Meanwhile, Stallard said a bystander had called 911, and Constable Austin Johnson responded. She said he handcuffed her and threatened to arrest her, before releasing her from the handcuffs and then threatened again to arrest her if she did not go to the hospital. Rather than make any arrests, she said, Austin Johnson told both parties to see the county attorney and let Johnny Johnson have his gun back.
When Stallard went to see the county attorney the next day, he called Sheriff Mickey Stines. Stines watched surveillance video from Walmart and arrested Johnny Johnson.
Johnny Johnson is charged with two counts of third-degree terroristic threatening, one count of second-degree assault, and two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, and was later indicted on the same charges by a Letcher County Grand Jury. The criminal case is set for trial in March.