Texas inmate: Deputies choked me for smiling in mugshot

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Thursday, June 9, 2016
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Christopher Johnson is suing deputies for an alleged assault in 2015

HARRIS COUNTY, TX -- A Harris County jail inmate claims he was assaulted by deputies because he smiled for his mugshot.

Christopher Johnson is suing after he says two county employees put their hands around his neck and choked him for about 30 seconds.

Johnson was arrested on July 25, 2015 on suspicion of drunk driving. His attorneys say he was never convicted of anything worse than a traffic ticket until that night.

At the time of booking, court documents allege Johnson was berated and ridiculed for smiling in his mugshot.

"Take the picture right," a deputy is accused of saying several times. "Man, stop smiling!"

"This is how I always take my pictures," Johnson purportedly said.

That is when Johnson says a second deputy with gloves entered the equation. The deputies allegedly began to choke Mr. Johnson by placing their hand around his neck.

Johnson's attorneys maintain their client suffered significant pain and mental anguish from the alleged event.

The Harris County Sheriff's deputy in question stated in his police report that Johnson had become uncooperative, a charge Johnson denies.

Lawyers for Johnson are seeking both compensation for their client and punitive damages, alleging the deputy and those involved in the incident violated his civil rights.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office tells abc13 they have just become aware of the lawsuit. We expect a response later today.

We're following this story on Eyewitness News. Watch for updates on air, online and on our mobile news app.

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