A Chester Police Department officer was fired Wednesday after he was arrested in nearby Union for allegedly groping a woman at a restaurant.
James Franklin Johnson, 45, is charged with third-degree assault and battery, according to arrest warrants from the Union Police Department obtained by The Herald.
Chester Police Chief Eric Williams, who started the job Monday after being hired last month, was made aware of the arrest late in the day.
Williams said late Wednesday that the decision was made to terminate Johnson from the force. Williams had placed Johnson on unpaid administrative leave Monday while an internal investigation was done that paralleled the criminal investigation by Union police. But by Wednesday night, Williams said he had enough "facts" from the internal probe to make a decision to fire Johnson.
"Officer Johnson is no longer employed," Williams told The Herald.
Earlier Wednesday Chief Williams called the alleged conduct "very unbecoming" for anyone including a police officer, and that he has "standards for the department" that must be upheld.
Williams said Johnson has been an officer in Chester for less than a year, but he had worked in law enforcement in Union County before coming to Chester.
Johnson, whose booking address is listed as Union, was arrested Sunday, the warrant shows.
Lt. Kevin Powers of the Union Police Department confirmed that Johnson had been arrested. Chief Sam White of the Union Police Department said Johnson formerly worked for the Union County Sheriff’s Office, not the city police department.
The city police investigated the case and made the arrest, White said.
“A law enforcement officer is not above the law,” White said.
The Union Police Department report states that the incident happened after 10 p.m. Saturday. Witnesses told responding police officers that Johnson was “highly intoxicated,” the report states.
Johnson allegedly “did grope” the victim, who is the wife of a Union County sheriff’s deputy, at a restaurant, the warrant states.
The victim had to use a butter knife to repel Johnson’s advances, the report states.
Johnson was outside the restaurant, where karaoke was going on, then sat at a table with the victim and others, the report states.
The incident was witnessed by another woman, who also is a Union officer, and confirmed the victim’s statements, the report states.