LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The leader of a Black militia group that protested in Louisville has been arrested and accused of pointing a rifle at officers during a protest on Sep. 4. He was arrested at his home in West Chester, Ohio and brought to the Oldham County Jail.
NFAC leader John Fitzgerald Johnson, also known as Grandmaster Jay, has been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers after he allegedly aimed an AR platform rifle at members of the U.S. Secret Service and LMPD while they were on the roof of the Jefferson County Grand Jury building.
According to a criminal complaint, officers were conducting watch over a crowd at Jefferson Square Park that night when they heard six to eight heavily armed people were parked on Armory Place.
When the officers went to look down on Armory Place, they were "blinded by a light which they shortly thereafter determined was a flashlight mounted to the rifle" Johnson pointed.
Photos provided in the probable cause affidavit show a person pointing a rifle toward the top of a building. The complaint also said surveillance footage showed none of the members sought cover after seeing officers on the roof, saying they did not "appear to be alarmed or concerned about their safety."
The FBI interviewed the officers, who all identified the Johnson and the other men as NFAC members. LMPD adviser Jessie Halladay, who met with Johnson shortly after the incident, also identified Johnson from surveillance footage.
LMPD Sgt. Aubrey Gregory said he had advised Johnson that law enforcement would be on the rooftops of buildings during correspondence prior to his arrival both on September 4 and earlier in the year.
“Here in Kentucky we revere our First and Second Amendment freedoms, not foolishness which puts police and protesters at grave risk,” said U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman.
Dave Mutchler, the press secretary and PIO for the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), says federal investigations are more deliberate so he's not surprised by the three month timeline.
"With rights comes responsibilities and that's pretty obvious that was an irresponsible action on his part," Mutchler said. "The FOP is satisfied that the federal government is bringing those charges."
Local advocate and pastor Tim Findley Jr. says the timing is not just.
"To use this and to make this move three months later, speaks of the flawed, ridiculous, racist, unfair policing structure in this city," Findley said. "Grandmaster Jay is a national figure. So, this, once again, makes Louisville look like the hotspot of racism."
The 57-year-old was arrested and appeared before a federal judge in Louisville Thursday. The charge has a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.