Local basketball star Johnson charged with pot possession

Photo by John Millikan

Photo by John Millikan

ALBANY -- Officials at the Dougherty County Jail and Albany Dougherty Drug Unit have confirmed that former Dougherty High and Florida State basketball star Alexander Johnson was arrested last Wednesday for misdemeanor marijuana possession and tampering with evidence by the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit. He was also cited for a windshield/window tint violation and was released a day later on $2,100 bond, according to jail officials.

When reached by The Herald, Johnson declined to comment.

According to the commander of the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit, Maj. Bill Berry, Johnson was stopped in southwest Albany last Wednesday night.

"The arrest is from a traffic stop on Newton Road near the Airport late last Wednesday evening," Berry wrote in an email to The Herald on Wednesday. "When my guys stopped him he threw something out the window, and when it was recovered, it turned out to be marijuana (rolled up in several blunt cigarettes) and was less than an ounce in weight. Nothing else was found and he was taken to DCSO Jail and booked on possession of marijuana and 2 traffic offenses."

According to the arrest report, the arresting officer, who was not identified in the report, noticed Johnson's 2009 black Dodge Challenger SRT-8 vehicle parked at the Albany Regional Airport drop-off/pick-up area without a driver in it as the officer patrolled the area "looking for suspicious, unoccupied (or) improperly parked vehicles."

According to the report, the officer then noticed a male walk up and get into the driver's side of the vehicle -- later identified as Johnson -- so the officer continued driving, only to notice the rear windshield was extremely dark. The officer then "recalled that I had been on two prior traffic stops with the same vehicle for window tint violations ... I decided to talk to the driver about his lack of concern for removing the illegal window tint," the report stated.

According to the report, the officer turned on his lights and pulled behind Johnson as both drove northbound on Newton Road, but Johnson initially failed to stop and the officer feared a pursuit might be in store.

"The vehicle appeared as it if was not going to stop and that a pursuit might occur, but the vehicle started to slow," the report stated. "As we reached the intersection of Newton Road and South Slappey Boulevard, the vehicle made a wild left hand turn from the right hand lane, crossing over the left hand lane and left turn lane in the process.

"My level of concern immediately became elevated as I believed a high speed chase would occur."

According to the report, the officer knew that Johnson's car was "rated at 425 horsepower and I could see the driver anxiously looking back and forth between the driver's door mirror and the roadway in front of him."

Johnson finally "whipped over to the right curb," according to the report, "and stopped abruptly," which is when the officer noticed a hand come outside of the passenger door window "in what appeared to be a forceful throwing motion."

The report states that Johnson and his passenger -- who was not identified in the arrest report because the passenger wasn't charged and was later released -- were asked by the officer to put their hands up and for Johnson to shut off the ignition. Once under arrest, officers began searching for the "object(s) that had been thrown from the vehicle," but were unable to find them initially.

Another officer who assisted in the arrest and the arresting officer said they smelled "raw marijuana," according to the report, and summoned the K-9 unit.

"Once (K-9) Coco was put to work, she immediately went to the area we were searching and alerted to the presence of drugs," the report states. "Upon closer examination of the ground, several brown marijuana 'blunts' mixed in some brown dried up leaves were observed .... The driver, Alexander Johnson, was formally placed under arrest and read a Miranda warning. Johnson stated that he had thrown the marijuana out the window. Johnson claimed ownership of the contraband and took sole responsibility for the incident."

Johnson, who stands 6-foot-9 and weighs 240 pounds, led Dougherty to the 2001 state title before signing with Florida State. He left FSU after his junior season and was selected 45th overall in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers, who then traded his rights to the Portland Trailblazers and eventually the Memphis Grizzlies.

Johnson played 59 games for the Grizzlies during the 2006-07 season, averaging 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds a game. He then signed with the Miami Heat for the 2007-08 season, but was waived after appearing in 43 games and making six starts. Johnson has since played for several different professional teams overseas after being waived by the Heat 2008, and most recently was with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the NBA D-League last year.

Johnson was named the NBA D-League Player of the Month in March 2010 and was later signed to a short-term contract with the Houston Rockets.

In 11 games for the Skyforce, Johnson, a forward, averaged 24.5 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 60 percent (81-of-134) from the field and leading Sioux Falls to a 9-3 record. During the month, Johnson scored in double figures in all 11 games, including scoring a season-high 32 points in a 99-98 road win over the Maine Red Claws on March 7. Johnson led the Skyforce in scoring and rebounding six times during the month.

Johnson said when reached by The Herald that he would now be playing overseas with a professional team in Korea starting soon.