Former Zebra's bar owner arrested on suspicion of drunken driving

Steve Garrison The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Lance Johnson, the former owner of Zebra's Sports Bar & Grill, was charged earlier this month with driving drunk.

According to a Farmington police report, Johnson, 42, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving on the night of June 3 near the intersection of Sandalwood and English drives after his ex-girlfriend called police to report him for harassing behavior.

City of Farmington Human Resources Director Tom Swenk said Johnson was no longer employed as a fire engineer with the Farmington Fire Department as of Wednesday. Swenk would not say whether Johnson, a 16-year veteran of the department, was fired or if he had resigned.

Johnson previously had been fired by the city on April 1, 2011, after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in Durango, Colo., on Dec. 19, 2010, according to The Daily Times archives.

Johnson filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city in November 2012, but dropped the lawsuit in favor of arbitration. An arbitrator determined in July 2013 that Johnson was guilty of wrongdoing, but determined that his actions did not justify termination. He was reinstated as a fire engineer, according to the archives.

That drunken driving charge was dismissed through a plea agreement with prosecutors, the archives state.

Johnson did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday, and his attorney, Mitch Burns, declined to comment.

According to the police report, Johnson's ex-girlfriend called police at approximately 11:30 p.m. June 3 to report that Johnson was harassing her through email and by phone. She said Johnson sounded drunk and kept driving past her new boyfriend's residence on Greenwood Drive, where he knew she was staying.

An officer was dispatched to the residence after the ex-girlfriend reported that a mailbox was placed outside the home, the report states. While the officer talked to the ex-girlfriend, Johnson slowly drove past the residence, according to the report. The officer gave chase and pursued Johnson through the subdivision, the report states. Johnson briefly lost the officer and allegedly attempted to hide by parking the vehicle with its lights off, according to the report, but the officer was not fooled.

"You got me," Johnson allegedly told the officer in the report.

Johnson claimed that he and his ex-girlfriend had recently reconciled, and admitted to drinking several beers and a shot of tequila at a bar earlier in the evening. He failed a field sobriety test, the report states, and registered a 0.12 and a 0.11 blood-alcohol content on two separate breath tests.

Johnson pleaded not guilty to 1st-offense drunken driving on June 5, according to court records.

Zebra's Sports Bar & Grill closed on April 4 after six years.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.