Former bounce rapper "Josephine" Johnny Watson has posed a dilemma for New Orleans police over the past year or so.
AUG 2016 He was judged to be too sick to book at the jail when police arrested him in May 2015 in connection with an alleged shooting. And that meant the case against him couldn't go forward, making Watson what authorities sometimes refer to as an "untouchable."
Even so, Watson apparently was not too sick to continue terrorizing his Central City neighborhood, according to authorities. He’s accused of committing another shooting a few months ago, among other crimes.
Watson, 40, has now been booked on more than half a dozen charges, and police think they've taken a dangerous criminal off the streets.
“We think that’s going to be a win for us, and that’s going to help us with some of our violent crime in Central City," 6th District Lt. Nicholas Gernon said at a commanders briefing Wednesday.
Watson was well known in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a bounce artist. His 2002 album “Still on Da Run” included a song called “Riden' Illegal.”
Even in his heyday, police said his tough poses were more than just an act. In 1996 he was accused of killing a friend of his girlfriend. In 2001 police accused him of spraying a bar with gunfire. The District Attorney’s Office refused both charges, however.
After a stint in federal prison for defrauding FEMA after Hurricane Katrina, Watson returned to the streets. Gernon said Watson, who was listed as homeless on an arrest register, was known to bounce around Central City, causing trouble.
Early on the morning of April 11 last year, Watson apparently was crashing in an apartment with several other people in the 2200 block of Freret Street. When another resident ordered Watson to leave before a visit from the landlord, police said in a warrant, Watson snapped. He became “irate” and said, “I don’t got time for this,” according to the warrant.
As the other man began to walk away from the increasingly angry Watson, police allege, he heard a loud noise that sounded like a gunshot. The other man sprinted out of the house, fleeing “under the cover of darkness,” and waited half an hour before he returned. When he did, he told police, he found a single shell casing on Watson’s mattress and a bullet hole in a door frame near where he had been standing.
Police obtained a warrant for Watson’s arrest and pulled him over the night of May 26, 2015, outside of Al’s Bar in Central City. Watson claimed at the time that Officer Brian Stanley placed him in a choke hold while he was trying to find his proof of insurance. “I’m taking a little long or something getting out of the car, you know, so he, like, grabbed me,” Watson said.
A spokeswoman for the Independent Police Monitor's Office said she was “concerned” about the arrest, which was caught on body-worn camera footage. But NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble said a Public Integrity Bureau investigation later cleared Stanley of any wrongdoing.
“The use-of-force investigation did not result in any sustained allegations, discipline or reprimands of any officer," Gamble said. "However, Officer Stanley was required to attend additional training."
The arrest itself came to nothing, though. The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office refused Watson for booking during a medical screening.
Watson carried a colostomy bag, sat in a wheelchair and described himself as a paraplegic during an interview in front of a Central City stoop last year.
Gernon called it an act. “He’s considered one of the ‘untouchables,’ because whenever he sees the police he jumps in a wheelchair and pretends like he can’t be brought to jail," Gernon said.
Written by Matt Sledge
Johnny Watson was born and raised at 4405 Josephine Street, and took his stage name, Josephine Johnny, to commemorate his heritage. At the age of 10, his love for music and influences from Michael Jackson, Tupac, and N.W.A. led him down a path that would birth one of the greatest rappers the South has ever heard. Fans quickly took notice of Josephine Johnny's powerful style and energetic personality.
In late 1999, Josephine Johnny was discovered and signed to Jam Tight Records, where he received his first record deal. He then put out four albums under the label. When the company started to keep royalties from him, he decided to launch his own record label, Josephine Records, LLC. His dynamic debut album's Trouble Will Find You, and Throw Back Thong, were two of his best pieces of work. The Workin Wit Sumthin song creatively reflects the ups and downs of the rapper/song writer's experiences. This particular song shows Josephine Johnny’s high energy and undeniably distinctive style of rap. This style helped him land big gigs and performances with other major artists, including, B.G, Juvenile, Lil Boosie, Ja Rule, B-Low, Turk, Magnolia Chop, and Eurka the Golden Child.
Josephine Johnny has also been invited to make special guest appearances at celebrity basketball games, the New Orleans Jazz Fest, and Teen Summit, held in the New Orleans Superdome. He has also put his much requested talents on display at major universities like Grambling University along with Ja Rule and Juvenile. Josephine Johnny’s energy has influenced and added to the flavor of other superstars including, Beyonce, Ludacris, Reggie Wayne, Reggie Bush, Chad Johnson, and Joe Horn. They have all been seen doing the Josephine Johnny Dance, and his energetic skills even gave one of the most famous artists (Ludacris) good reason to say his name in the “Why Don't We Fall In Love Remix” with Amerie. His video played on Phat Phat N All That, and All Good in the Hood. Since the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, the South and Southern music has steadily evolved due to the New Orleans Bounce originators, of whom Josephine Johnny is one of the premier pioneers.
Josephine Johnny feels that God gave him a gift, so it's only right that he lead the way with his gospel song “I Believe in the Lord”, which he has performed with warm welcome at churches in the Houston metropolitan area. Josephine Johnny music has an eternal sound that appeals to fans of all ages. His music, dance style, and name have traveled all over the world with the likes of Beyonce and Ludacris. He proves on his albums that it’s possible to be classy and funky at the same time. Through the power of his music and dance, he hopes to bust radio speakers, television sets, and magazines wide open.
What makes Josephine Johnny different from other artists is his drive to learn and stand out, above, and beyond. Losing his twin brother, Lonnie, who helped him start the company, and his nephew in 2005 has been very hard for him. When Johnny lost his twin, it took a lot out of him. He feels that now is the time for him to make a major comeback to the music game and continue his legacy of leaving a lasting musical impression on the entertainment industry.