Fairfax County

Fairfax County PD Fires Officer Who Fatally Shot Unarmed Man Near Tysons Mall

One of two officers who fired at Timothy Johnson near Tysons Corner Center has been fired. The other officer remains on "modified restrictive duty"

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A Fairfax County officer who police say fatally shot a suspected shoplifter near Tysons Corner Center has been fired from the police department, and newly released body camera video shows he did not identify a threat or weapon on the suspect before firing his weapon.

Sgt. Wesley Shifflett's actions did not “meet the expectations” of the police department and Shifflett did not follow use-of-force protocols, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said in a news conference Thursday.

The department released surveillance and body camera footage of the incident, 29 days after Timothy Johnson was shot and killed.

Johnson, 37, was suspected of shoplifting a pair of sunglasses when police chased him to a wooded area by the Northern Virginia mall on Feb. 22. He died a short time later at a hospital.

Surveillance video shows Johnson going into the Nordstrom store at the mall that evening and looking at designer sunglasses.

An employee with Nordstrom Asset Protection saw Johnson act suspiciously and believed he was about to steal some sunglasses when they called the Tysons Urban Team, who responded to the store, police said.

An officer in plain clothes saw Johnson near the anti-theft alarm at one of the store's exits when the alarm went off, police said. Johnson then turned and walked toward the parking garage exit, according to police.

**WARNING** The video below could be disturbing to some viewers and includes graphic language.

WARNING: Viewers might find parts of the video disturbing.

A few moments later, police say an officer in plain clothes saw Johnson set off a second alarm as he went through it and left the store near the parking garage, which can be seen on surveillance video.

Officers then followed Johnson into the parking garage and saw him go down a stairwell. Video from the parking garage shows an officer running to the stairwell to try to catch up to Johnson.

One uniformed and one officer in plain clothes chased Johnson as he exited the parking garage stairwell, ran through the parking garage and toward Route 7.

Body camera video from the uniformed officer, Sgt. Shifflett, shows the officer running through the parking lot At one point, the Shifflett can be heard saying "He's crossing over! He's crossing over, guys."

Officers continued to pursue Johnson as he changed direction and ran across Fashion Boulevard toward a wooded area.

"Going into the woods, through the woods," Shifflett says. He then shouts to Johnson, "Get on the ground! Get on the ground!"

While following Johnson into the wood line, both officers fired their guns. Johnson was hit in the chest one time.

Three pops can be heard in the video, and the third apparent gunshot is heard as one of the officers yells, "Stop reaching! Stop reaching!"

Johnson cannot be seen on camera during that time.

After the officers fired, Johnson can be seen in the distance laying on the ground and he doesn't appear to be moving. Officers then do CPR on him until paramedics arrive.

Soon after the shooting, Shifflett says to a responding officer, "He didn't get any rounds off. I don't know if he's armed. He was continually reaching in his waistband. I told him, 'Let me see your hands. Let me see your hands.'"

However, the officer is not heard giving that command on the body camera video.

Davis said Shifflett was served a notice Thursday that he was fired. The second officer who shot at Johnson, James Sadler, remains on "modified restrictive duty."

Davis didn't offer any opinion on the body camera video, saying it could compromise the integrity of the ongoing criminal investigation.

“The administrative separation of the officer by Chief Davis corroborates what I saw in footage which was several violations of police procedures. However, Justice for Timothy continues. No one has been charged with his murder,” the Johnson family's attorney Carl Crews said in a statement to News4.

Fairfax County police are now monitoring and tracking all foot pursuits in light of the shooting, Davis said.

“Anytime a foot pursuit occurs it's now mandatory that it be documented, reviewed by a supervisor and reviewed by a commander," he said.

Johnson's family viewed the body camera video on Wednesday.

"No parent, no parents should not have to view the killing of their child and then be asked to give remarks," Johnson's mother, Melissa Johnson, said. "However, here we are, and here I stand."

Melissa Johnson and the family attorney said the video confirmed what they've believed ever since Timothy Johnson was shot last month at Tyson Corner Center -- that he was unarmed, and he posed no threat.

"The only thing they knew was that he was black and male and had allegedly triggered an alarm at a store for some sunglasses," she said.

"If the video would have exonerated the officer we would have seen it before now. It does not. He was not vindicated at all," said family attorney Carl Crews.

"More often than not the body camera footage speaks for itself. This time, it does not," Davis said Thursday after reporters viewed the body camera video for the first time.

Melissa Johnson previously spoke out about the shooting, and said in late February that she wants to know why deadly force was used for someone accused of shoplifting and whether police violated department policy.

"Was shoplifting right? Absolutely not. But we have laws in place to address shoplifting," she said at the time. "Should my son have been murdered because he shoplifted from the mall?"

"He could have been apprehended without a shot being fired," Crews said. "There were several police officers present, that this could have been done. That's why there was no imminent danger to the officer."

The family said police provided no information to them about why officers might have fired their weapons.

"No apology was given, no explanation was given either," Crews said.

Steve Descano, Virginia's Commonwealth Attorney, says he expects to make a decision on filing charges against the officers in the near future.

"I have seen and am devastated by the body-worn camera footage showing yet another death of a Black man at the hands of police," Descano said in a statement shared with News4.

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