(Updated at 6:15 p.m.) The Fairfax County police officer who allegedly fired the gunshot that killed Timothy McCree Johnson outside Tysons Corner Center last month will be fired, Chief Kevin Davis announced this afternoon (Thursday).
Davis didn’t identify the officer removed from duty, but the Washington Post reports that Sgt. Wesley Shifflett, a seven-year veteran of the Fairfax County Police Department, is believed to have fired the fatal shots.
The announcement was made at a 1 p.m. press conference, where the FCPD publicly released surveillance and body camera footage of the Feb. 22 encounter, which began with Johnson allegedly shoplifting a pair of sunglasses from Nordstrom and evolved into an extended foot chase.
“As a parent, my heart is still broken,” Melissa Johnson, Timothy’s mother, said. “I feel like I can just breathe a little bit lighter after hearing the announcement today, but we’re still waiting to see exactly what’s going to happen.”
The second officer involved — previously identified as eight-year veteran James Sadler — has been kept on modified restricted duty as a criminal investigation into the shooting continues.
Carl Crews, a lawyer representing the Johnson family, called Shifflett’s firing an “appropriate” move for an apparent violation of the FCPD’s use-of-force policy.
“But we’re not satisfied,” Crews told FFXnow. “The process needs to continue. The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office needs to indict. There needs to be a charge against the officer, because a life was taken wrongly.”
The FCPD policy permits the use of deadly force against someone who’s fleeing if they’re suspected of committing a felony and their escape could pose a “significant threat” to others.
It’s unclear exactly where Johnson was in relation to the pursuing officers from the over eight-minute video compilation that the FCPD released. Shifflett can be heard saying that Johnson is going into the woods and yelling “get on the ground.”
He then appears to trip on the underbrush and says “Stop reaching.” The body camera’s lens gets briefly covered up as Shifflett reports “shots fired,” though the video needs to be slowed down and digitally enhanced to hear the three “pops” of gunshots.
Johnson did not have a weapon.
Police have confirmed that both Shifflett and Sadler fired their weapons, which means they both need to be held accountable, Crews argues.
“If [the other officer] was involved in the shooting, firing his weapon…he also violated the Fairfax County police officer policy for the use of deadly force, so he should be fired as well,” Crews said.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay confirmed that a notice of separation was served to one of the officers involved, expressing support for Davis’s decision in a lengthy statement that called the released video “disturbing.” Read More
(Updated at 10 a.m. on 2/28/2023) The fatal police shooting of a man accused of shoplifting sunglasses at Tysons Corner Center last week has local civil rights groups questioning the Fairfax County Police Department’s commitment to enforcing its own policies.
The Fairfax County NAACP wants “an independent, transparent and comprehensive investigation” into the death of D.C. resident Timothy McCree Johnson, who was shot by officers on Wednesday (Feb. 22) during a foot chase that extended a quarter-mile from the Nordstrom where he allegedly stole a pair of designer sunglasses.
In a statement released this morning, the organization says the information shared so far about the incident suggests the shooting was unwarranted based on the FCPD’s own use-of-force policy.
“The tragic killing of Mr. Johnson reminds us once again how unjust America’s policing truly is,” Fairfax County NAACP President Michelle Leete said. “The facts as we know them signal that the officers’ actions were entirely out of step with FCPD’s Use of Force policy.”
The FCPD major crimes bureau is conducting a criminal investigation into incident, while the internal affairs bureau is tasked with leading an administrative investigation, which will be reviewed by the county’s independent police auditor.
The NAACP has set up a Gofundme to help Johnson’s family with funeral expenses.
Effective as of Aug. 12, 2022, FCPD’s policy says deadly force “shall not be used to apprehend a fleeing misdemeanant (unless they pose an imminent threat of serious physical harm or death to the officer or others).”
Notably, the parenthetical is a revision from the prior use-of-force policy that was in place in 2021.
It allows deadly force to be used to apprehend a fleeing person if certain conditions are met:
- The officer has probable cause to believe that the individual committed a felony involving violence, and
- All other means to effect an arrest have been exhausted, and
- The felon’s escape poses a significant threat of serious injury or death to the officer or others.
(Correction: This article previously cited the FCPD’s 2021 use-of-force policy as the current one but has now been corrected to reflect the most recent update.)
“Suspicion of stealing a few pairs of sunglasses without the use or possession of a weapon do not satisfy any — much less all — of [the policy’s] requirements,” the NAACP said. “Whether or not Mr. Johnson was guilty of a crime, he had the right to due process, and for the sanctity of his life to be respected by police officers to the maximum extent possible.”
The NAACP says the police department should release “unedited camera footage” of the Tysons incident, a medical examiner’s report, and the officers’ identities and complaint histories.
FCPD policies dictate that the names of officers involved in a shooting be made public within 10 days and that body-worn camera footage be released within 30 days. Read More