Exclusive: Homeless vet details shooting by off-duty LAPD detective

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A homeless Marine who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan returned to the United States safely only to be shot by an off-duty LAPD narcotics detective.

The veteran, Michael Wise, tells Eyewitness News he knew from weapons training that the gun aimed at him that rainy February night was the real deal.

"He had enough space to pull out a gun for me to be able to see down the rifling of it, down the rifling... is the spirals inside," says Wise.

Detective Michael Johnson, an off-duty narcotics detective from 77th Division in South LA, remains at home recovering from his injuries.

Wise admits to severely beating Johnson, but says it was in self-defense. Wise says he was standing on the sidewalk at 3:30 in the morning with a female friend when Johnson approached her aggressively.

"You come with me or you come here... he just grabbed (her) arm and said come here," Wise says. "And he told me get the f--- out of here."

"He shot me once, I grabbed the gun, got into an altercation with him, he shot me again and the second one actually hit -- that was a little bit rougher I remember," says Wise.

"All I remember is hitting him in the face as hard as I f------ could until I could feel his bones breaking," he says.

"My adrenaline was rushing and I was ready to fricking just take this threat out completely."

The LAPD confirms that Detective Johnson visited a bar after a training session in downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 14. Somehow he wound up on Skid Row in the middle of the night.

Video obtained exclusively by Eyewitness News reveals dramatic moments as Wise wanders along 6th Street moments after the shooting.

It is raining. Wise is stripped to the waist. He is using his shirt to plug his wound.

"I just remember ripping my shirt off to use it as a knot to apply pressure to it," Wise recalls of the bullet wound.

"Hurry up, please, please. He is bleeding pretty good," says a caller to 911.

Paramedics arrive to a confusing scene. There's another man down with severe head injuries. Neither the paramedics nor Wise knew that the other man was an LAPD officer.

"I didn't know who the hell he was, he never introduced himself as a cop," says Wise. "I wound up being on top of him and trying to wrestle him away. I heard somebody say - oh my god, he's got a gun," says Wise. "He hit me a second time."

Wise says LAPD detectives tried twice to interview him during his week-long stay at the hospital, but he declined to cooperate.

Johnson's wounds were so severe that another caller to 911 believed he'd been shot in the head.

"Muscle memory kicks in," Wise says. "I was shot, I was hurt."

Surgeons at County-USC saved the veteran's life, but left the bullet inside Wise for now.

"That's the bullet, that's my new closest friend," says Wise, showing Eyewitness News where the bullet is lodged in his torso.

The LAPD says detectives are still in the early stages of their investigation.

"At this point, no arrests have been made in connection with the incident," says LAPD spokesperson Josh Rubenstein.

"We also do not draw any conclusions about whether the officer acted consistent with our policies and the law until all the facts are known and the investigation is complete."

Rubenstein tells Eyewitness News that officers are not prohibited from carrying a weapon off-duty, even if they are drinking. However, officers are expected to use good judgment and must at all times follow "use of force" policies, using deadly force only if the situation warrants.

Wise says he has no problem with the LAPD in general, but questions why the detective acted in the manner he did that February night.

"I would've expected him to act a little more professional," says Wise.

"I pray God does forgive him."

Got a tip? Email ABC7 Investigative Producer Lisa.Bartley@abc.com
Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.