GARLAND COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) -- A local couple who reportedly had a fire burning Saturday in violation of the countywide burn ban are soon facing several other charges after allegedly fighting with Garland County Sheriff's deputies.
Nathan Roger Johnson, 28, and Brittney LeAnn Johnson, 20, both of 615 Elk Horn Loop, were taken into custody at their residence shortly before 9:30 p.m. and both charged with misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and obstructing government operations, punishable by up to one year in jail.
Brittney Johnson was also charged with a felony count of second-degree battery for allegedly striking a firefighter and Nathan Johnson was also cited for public intoxication, resisting arrest and violation of the burn ban ordinance.
According to an affidavit, GCSD deputies Kenny Ford and J.T. Dunn responded to the couple's residence to assist volunteer firefighters who stated the resident there had a fire burning in violation of the burn ban and was refusing to cooperate with the firefighters to put it out.
Ford noted he and Dunn arrived at the same time, and Dunn walked up to the residence with the firefighters who were already on the scene. Ford states Nathan Johnson came out of the residence "with his arms up in an aggressive manner." Ford said he was told there was no need for him to be aggressive.
"Johnson continued to have a standoffish attitude toward firemen and deputies," Ford stated, and when Dunn asked Johnson for his name, he replied by "flexing his arm and saying 'It's right there' while pointing to his arm."
Dunn asked Johnson for his date of birth, and he replied Feb. 14, 1982. It was later determined to be Feb. 13, 1984. Ford noted Johnson continued to argue with them as he was told to put his hands on a nearby vehicle.
"Johnson started to back away and not comply," Ford states, so Dunn grabbed Johnson, who allegedly attempted to elbow the deputy.
At that point, Brittney Johnson was told to back away from the altercation, but she continued to scream "Get off of him." Ford said he pushed Brittney Johnson back with an open hand and she "came back swinging her arms and kicking" toward Ford and Dunn and struck one firefighter in the face.
Other firefighters then grabbed her while Dunn and Ford gained control of Nathan Johnson, the report states. Dunn struck Johnson "numerous times with a baton" while ordering him to get down. He finally complied and was handcuffed.
Brittney Johnson was detained by firefighters until she was also taken into custody and transported to the Garland County Detention Center.
Nathan Johnson was initially transported to Mercy Hospital Hot Springs "as a cautionary" and then taken to the detention center. The report notes he had a strong smell of intoxicants on his person, slurred speech and red, bloodshot eyes, resulting in the public intoxication charge.
Brittney Johnson, reached by telephone Monday, said they have hired a lawyer and are planning to take legal action against the sheriff's deputies for their actions in the incident.
She said Nathan Johnson, her fiance, did start a small fire with leaves and when firefighters came he told them it was private property and he would take care of it himself and had got a hose to put it out.
She said the firefighters walked off and then called in the deputies. She said Johnson did get "aggravated" but she denied that he was drunk and said blood and urine tests at the hospital confirmed he was not intoxicated.
She said the deputies "showed up acting like bullies" and that Johnson "wasn't rude or anything."
Brittney Johnson said they "bum rushed" her fiance for no reason and they both got injured during the ensuing altercation. She claimed she has large bruises and other injuries.
"I'm a 120-pound woman and he was hitting me with a night stick," she said. "I never thought Garland County sheriff's deputies would do something like that without there being a reason."
She said at Mercy Hospital Nathan Johnson was told he only had contusions, but that she took him to National Park Medical Center where "they found several broken bones."
She admitted she may have "accidentally" struck one of the firefighters during the altercation.
"If I did, it was an accident. I'm not sure if I really hit him or not. I was just trying to struggle to get loose," she said.
She said Johnson was "in the Army" and trained "to assert yourself in a forward position." "Just because he didn't cower from them doesn't mean he should have been attacked."
Nathan Johnson was later released on $3,000 bond while Brittney Johnson was released on $4,000 bond. Both suspects are set to appear Sept. 4 in Garland County District Court