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Former Erie police officer lied about his military service

Officer lied about his elite training
Police Lights 2021 2
Former Erie officer under investigation File photo


A recently hired Erie police officer has been fired and is facing felony charges for allegedly lying about his elite military background and forging his application to the department.  

Joseph Tymon Watts-Johnson, 35, was fired in July and arrested for attempt to influence a public servant and forgery. Watts-Johnson was scheduled to be formally charged Thursday and is free on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.

After the investigation by the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office revealed that Watts-Johnson did not, in fact, complete ranger school and air assault schools and altered his military documents, he admitted he lied.

“I didn’t do the right thing,”  Watts-Johnson told DA investigators, according to the DA’s arrest affidavit.

Watts-Johnson applied to the Erie Police Department in 2021 and during a final interview on Dec. 13, 2021 told Erie Police Chief Kim Stewart and two other department officials that he served in the military and completed ranger school and air assault schools, according to a Boulder County District Attorney arrest affidavit.

Erie’s command staff was “teetering on which applicants they would hire,” and they decided to hire Watts-Johnson after his final interview, the affidavit states.

After the interview with Watts-Johnson, Chief Stewart reviewed his DD Form 214, which is known as the Discharge Paper and Separation Document, which is completed when a member of the Army is discharged from active duty. Stewart saw that there was no information on his form about being a part of the Army Rangers, Airborne or the Air Assault Division, the affidavit states.

Chief Stewart followed up with Watts-Johnson in January 2022 and asked him for documentation about his military experience. Watts-Johnson said his ex-wife had destroyed all of his military documents. He also said he would have to ask for the long form that showed his military experience and he would provide the documentation, the affidavit states.

Watts-Johnson finished his training with Erie PD and worked solo as a police officer. He still had not provided the document with his military background.

 Watts-Johnson brought in a different DD Form 214 in June. It looked like the original form but with information on it that was added and changed, the affidavit states.

“There were also editing mistakes that made the Erie Police Department question the authenticity of the document,” according to the affidavit. He was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation

Erie requested the Boulder DA’s office investigate Watts-Johnson’s claims. During an interview with the chief investigator with the DA's office, Watts-Johnson said when he applied for the job with the police department, he used a friend’s resume as a template and took things out of the resume and added other things that applied to him.

Watts-Johnson indicated that he didn’t think much about some of those things until he was questioned about them in an interview with Erie PD. Watts-Johnson indicated that he agreed to what was in his resume during the interview, and then later after the interview thought, “Oh f…, I lied.” the affidavit states.

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty praised Chief Kim Stewart for pursuing the case against Watts- Johnson.

“With members of law enforcement, it is always important that issues related to truthfulness are dealt with and addressed.  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,” Dougherty said via email.

“The Erie Police Department cooperated, and assisted, with the investigation that led to these charges," he said.