GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A man who shot a Gulfport police officer twice at close range was sentenced to 30 years behind bars, but he could be out before then.
Corey Johnson, 23, pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. He was originally charged with attempted murder, which can carry up to a life sentence. On the day of trial, that charge was amended as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors. Instead, he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, and was sentenced to the maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
Defense Attorney Michael Crosby said if his client is a model prisoner, he could be eligible for "earned release" sometime before serving his entire sentence.
The shooting happened early on the morning of November 23, 2014. When a patrol officer tried to stop a vehicle at the intersection of 20th Avenue and 42nd Street, the driver took off and drove several more blocks before stopping in a driveway. Then, Johnson and several others ran from the vehicle into the nearby neighborhood.
Officer Dolton Bradley chased the fleeing suspects into a backyard where he was able to catch the defendant and hold him.
"During this attempt, the defendant brandished a 9 mm handgun and shot Officer Bradley two times at point blank range in the upper abdomen. Officer Bradley was able to take the weapon from the defendant and throw it out of reach. After being shot, Officer Bradley was still able to hold the defendant until other officers arrived," said ADA Matthew Burrell.
When the defendant was finally detained, other officers with the Gulfport Police Department rushed Officer Bradley to Gulfport Memorial Hospital where he was rushed into emergency surgery to control the bleeding and treat a punctured lung, torn intestine, and broken ribs.
"The actions of Dolton Bradley and his fellow officers that night were nothing less than heroic. They were a true representation of the highest and best qualities of our local law enforcement," District Attorney Joel Smith said. "It is vital to the success of our community that we support the men and women that protect us. The sentence handed down by Judge Bourgeois today sends a strong message that we take this crime seriously and will punish those who commit them."