‘Lost Everything’: California Ex-Cop Acquitted of Lying In a Police Report After Confronting a Black Man Holding a Cellphone That He Mistook for a Cigarette, Now Says His Entire Life Has Been Ruined

A former La Mesa, California, police officer who was fired and charged after being accused of lying on a police report about his confrontation with a young Black man he arrested in 2020, says his life has been destroyed by the aftermath of the incident.

Amaurie Johnson (left), Officer Matthew Dages (right)

In a recent interview on a Fox News talk show, he claimed protesters from Black Lives Matter made it unbearable for him and his family to live in their home after the encounter, saying, “We’ve been put through the wringer in the name of justice.”

While appearing on “The Ingraham Angle,” Matthew Dages told host Laura Ingraham that in just two years he lost his job, house, and reputation after being accused of lying in an official police report about what happened before he arrested Amaurie Johnson near a light rail station in the suburban San Diego city of La Mesa.

On May 27, 2020, Dages was serving on a “fare compliance operation” for the department at the Grossmont Transit Center, assigned to check to see if people had the correct fare to ride the trolley while standing in the area before getting on the public transportation. At the same time, Johnson was across the street on the sidewalk outside an apartment building, waiting for friends.

Dages claimed he thought that Johnson was smoking in a “no smoking zone,” and went over to him to confront him. 

The young man, then 23 years old, was not smoking but talking on a cellphone. Despite insisting he was not smoking, Dages continued to engage him — eventually resulting in a public confrontation and arrest that was caught on cellphone video that soon went viral.

Johnson was arrested on charges surrounding the confrontation, assaulting an officer, and resisting arrest. He was never charged for smoking. In fact, police reports later confirmed Johnson had no “smoking paraphernalia” on his person.

Though Dages was mistaken, and originally approached the young man regarding smoking, that was never mentioned in his report on the incident. He was later fired for misrepresenting the facts of the arrest. The now-retired Police Chief Walt Vasquez who terminated Dages says that his report of the incident reflected racial bias and that he believed the officer profiled Johnson because he was Black.

Dages stood trial last December on charges of filing a false report. An El Cajon jury deliberated only one day before acquitting him of the charges on Friday, Dec. 10. However, despite being found not guilty, he now claims his life has nevertheless been turned upside down, his reputation is tarnished, and that Black Lives Matters protesters have made living in his former home hell.

Ingraham could not wait to promote her show about Dages, encouraging her predominantly white and blue-supporting audience to help him.

The former officer said in the interview that he “lost everything” after the incident, trial, and the ruining of his professional relationship.

“I describe it to people that I’ve lost everything, to be honest. I’ve lost my career. My family was under this terror for the last year and a half now,” Dages told Ingraham on her show. “Thankfully, we’ve come out victorious on that end. … And also on top of that, … my wife [and I] were set back about $100,000 in legal fees. So we’ve been put through the wringer in the name of justice.”

Outside of the money trouble, he told white conservative viewing audience, that protestors from BLM flooded his home after the May 2020 incident and compromised his living accommodations.

“It was terrifying for my whole family. It wasn’t a safe place for me to be in or for my family to be anymore. You never think that your home is going to be somewhere that is going to be under attack,” he claimed.

Dages still is off the force.

“My focus is getting back into uniform, and that’s something that I have [focused on] and still am doing. My wife and I are fighting to do that,” he concluded. “We still are going through the court process to get me reinstated, to get my back pay, to get basically my life back, and to really clear my name from any wrongdoing here.”

Ingraham ended the segment with a charge for her viewers to champion aid to his misfortune stating that she wanted to do something for him to help him and his family back on their feet. 

She concluded, “This can’t be our country.”

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