Channel 3 personality exits after police incident

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Posted by on September 15, 2008 at 15:21:49:

Local television sports director George Johnson no longer has his job at WISC, Channel 3, following Johnson's blowup at a police sergeant during a traffic stop on Monroe Street Saturday afternoon in which Johnson made racially sensitive comments.

"He (Johnson) no longer works here," said WISC news director Colin Benedict. "His last day was Tuesday."

Johnson, 48, was stopped by Sgt. Dave McClurg of the Madison Police Department on Monroe Street shortly after 3 p.m. Saturday, following the Wisconsin-Marshall football game at Camp Randall Stadium. He was pulled over after apparently failing to yield to a pedestrian at the Monroe Street intersection with Knickerbocker Street.

McClurg was notified of the traffic violation by another officer working on a pedestrian safety operation along Monroe Street.

According to the report filed with the citation, Johnson told McClurg he didn't know why he was stopped, and after the officer explained the reason, Johnson started commenting about the situation.

"Was it that n---- in the street?" Johnson asked, according to the report. "You can tell that n----- he is a sellout n-----. I'll be coming for that n------."

He apparently wasn't finished.

"You white people going to shoot all us n-----," the report said.

Johnson is an African-American. McClurg is white.

Johnson was very contrite and apologetic when talking to The Capital Times Thursday.

"I'm really sorry for the way I acted," Johnson said. "I accept the responsibility for my unprofessionalism that day."

He said he was "caught up in the emotion" of the moment and reacted.

"The police officer was very pleasant," Johnson said. "There was no reason for me to get that way. Seconds later (after the incident) I knew I was wrong."

Benedict wouldn't say if Johnson was fired or if he resigned, but did say the traffic incident played a role. "We are aware of it (the traffic incident), and it was a factor," Benedict said.

Johnson also wouldn't say if it was a firing or resignation, only that he no longer worked for the station.

Johnson was hired as the WISC-TV sports director in the summer of 2005, after stints in Washington, D.C., as a freelance reporter for BET News and as a play-by-play announcer for Black College Football.

Benedict said the station is looking for a new sports director.

Johnson doesn't know what his future plans are.

"I'm a little shaken by it, but I take responsibility," he said. "I apologize to the people I've let down.

"I hope I've learned from it," he said. "Once I've made that step I can come to grips with myself and my Lord. Life's about learning lessons."

McClurg also noted in his report that Johnson's Virginia driver's license had been suspended, and he had no valid Wisconsin driver's license.

The failure to yield to a pedestrian citation has a $140.50 fine.

(Cap Times)

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