Parents of drowned toddler had previous run-ins with law

Amber Johnson

Amber Johnson

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The parents charged in the drowning death of their 2-year-old daughter had encounters with law enforcement before the tragedy, police said.

The parents — Amber Johnson and James Johnson III — were charged June 10 with homicide, involuntary manslaughter and child abuse in connection with the drowning June 3 in a neighbor’s pool. The girl died June 4.

The parents were arraigned before 19th District Court Judge Sam Salamey on charges of homicide second degree murder, homicide involuntary manslaughter and second degree child abuse.

James Johnson

James Johnson

Bond for each was set at $1 million, and a probable cause conference was scheduled for June 24. A preliminary examination of the evidence against them was scheduled for July 1 in 19th District Court.

“The alleged actions and inactions of the defendants in this case defy common sense,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said. “Once again we are left with a child, whose death was completely preventable.”

At the arraignment, prosecutors said police had been called to the house multiple times prior to the drowning.

Dearborn police said officers responded to the house just a week before the drowning because the children were wandering on the sidewalk. The parents were cited and Child Protective Services were contacted.

The parents also had various citations in other jurisdictions, police said.

Also in court, Amber Johnson said she is a dancer; James Johnson said he is unemployed.
Police were called to a house in the 2600 block of Boldt Street just before 10:30 a.m. June 3 on a report of a child having fallen into a neighbor’s swimming pool. Officers arrived at the scene and found the caller and homeowner performing CPR on the child.

Dearborn Rescue responded and transported the child to a local hospital where she was listed in critical condition.

The child died at the hospital about 11:15 a.m., police said.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct their investigation within the next few days. The Dearborn Police Department also will continue to investigate the incident.

A preliminary investigation shows the 2-year girl and her 3-year brother left their house while their parents were sleeping. Both children managed to climb the chain link fence which allowed them access to the neighbor’s yard.

According to the report, the girl was able to climb the pool ladder and get into the pool.
When the homeowner looked out her window and saw the child in her pool, she immediately pulled her from the pool and began administering CPR.

The 3-year-old was uninjured.

“This is a tragic situation for all the families involved,” Police Chief Ronald Haddad said.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at