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BALTIMORE, MD (WBTV) - The attorney for a man charged with murdering a teenage girl from Union County says he was beaten by authorities during his arrest.
According to attorney Russell Neverdon, 28-year-old Michael Johnson was punched and tackled by authorities when he was arrested at his house Wednesday night.
Johnson has been charged with first degree murder in the death of 16-year-old Phylicia Barnes who disappeared while visiting family in Baltimore in December 2010. The Union County honor student's body was found in a Maryland river nearly four months later.
Neverdon told WBTV via phone on Thursday evening that Johnson was arrested around 11:10 p.m. Wednesday night at his home.
Johnson was outside of his home, getting into his vehicle to go to work, when Neverdon says multiple unmarked vehicles pulled up to the home and people ran out of the vehicles towards Johnson.
Johnson, according to his attorney, did not know the people were law enforcement officers and believed he was being carjacked or attacked.
"Instinctively, he thought somebody was about to 'rob me, carjack me' or something but this wasn't a good look," Neverdon told WBTV. "He attempted to run away from the car and thought 'if they want the car, they can just take the car'."
As he was running, Johnson noticed one of the men was wearing gear identifying him as law enforcement and began to slow down, Neverdon told WBTV. That's when Johnson was punched in the eye by one person and was tackled by another.
"He just felt a punch to his face and began to fall down and another person attacked him simultaneously," Neverdon said.
Neverdon says once he was on the ground, Johnson was punched multiple times more.
Baltimore Police said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon that there were no incidents during Johnson's arrest.
Johnson is currently being held at the Baltimore City Jail without bond.