Colorado Hometown Weekly
An Erie police officer has been fired and is facing felony charges after investigators say he lied about his military background and forged documents when he applied to the department.
Joseph Tymon Watts-Johnson, 35, is facing charges of forgery and attempt to influence a public servant, both felonies.
According to an affidavit, Watts-Johnson applied to the Erie Police Department in 2021. During a final interview in December 2021, Watts-Johnson said that he served in the military and completed ranger school as well as airborne and air assault schools.
But in January 2022 Erie police Chief Kim Stewart reviewed Watts-Johnson’s DD 214, which documents military service history, and she saw there was no information on his form about being a part of the Army Rangers, Airborne or the Air Assault Division.
When asked about the discrepancy, Watts-Johnson said his ex-wife had destroyed his documents but that he would get the necessary forms backing his statements.
But in June, Watts-Johnson had yet to provide the documents even as he had graduated training and was working as a solo officer. Command staff requested he bring in the forms prior to June 28.
On June 28, Watts-Johnson provided a new DD 214 form that had additions. But police noticed editing mistakes that made them question the legitimacy of the document.
Erie police contacted the U.S. Army and requested Watts-Johnson’s documents, which reflected the original form Watts-Johnson turned in and not the supposedly updated form. The Army said a separate form would need to be filed to update a DD214, and said no such form had been filed for Watts-Johnson.
Erie police turned the case over to the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office for investigation on July 7, and Watts-Johnson was placed on paid leave pending an internal investigation on July 8.
In an interview with investigators on July 12, Watts-Johnson said he used a friend’s resume template to apply, but then realized that led to some errors. He then admitted to forging the military forms.
Watts-Johnson was fired by Erie police on July 13 after the internal investigation.
“With members of law enforcement, it is always important that issues related to truthfulness are dealt with and addressed,” Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said in a statement.
“It is a testament to the overall integrity of the Erie Police Department, including Chief Kim Stewart, that they pursued this matter and immediately notified the District Attorney’s Office of possible concerns related to the job application. The Erie Police Department cooperated, and assisted, with the investigation that led to these charges.”
Watts-Johnson is set for a formal filing of charges on Thursday, and remains out of custody on a personal recognizance bond.
His booking photo was not yet available.
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