The mother of Timothy McCree Johnson, the man Fairfax County police shot and killed in a wooded area near Tysons Corner Center last week, wants an independent review of what happened.
Melissa Johnson told NBC Washington that she wants to know why police used deadly force a week ago when an officer shot her son. She also wants to know whether officers followed policy.
“We just have to do better,” she said. “What has to change? What policies, practices, or procedures need to be changed in order for this situation not to happen again?”
After getting a report of a man shoplifting designer sunglasses from Nordstrom, Fairfax County police said Timothy Johnson, 37, ran through the parking garage and ignored police commands to get on the ground. Two officers, a seven-year veteran and an eight-year veteran, followed Johnson into a nearby wooded area and fired shots at him. Johnson was struck once in the chest and died.
“Was shoplifting right? Absolutely not. But we have laws in place to address shoplifting,” the grieving mother said. “Should my son have been murdered because he shoplifted from the mall? … We really just want to know the truth.”
Melissa Johnson also told NBC Washington that she thinks Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis unfairly disparaged her son the night of the Tysons shooting by saying he had a violent history and was known to police. She said the description of her son as violent sent her into “mama bear” mode.
“I felt like it deprived me as a parent of my right to grieve because it immediately sent me in, like, mama bear mode that now my son is being villianized because the chief decided to use the descriptive word ‘violent,'” she said.
The Fairfax County NAACP also wants transparency in the probe. Specifically, it said the police department should release unedited body camera video from the officers involved, as well as the names of the officers. The NAACP called on police to develop a foot pursuit policy.
The names of the officers are expected to be released within the next few days. Davis has said that the body-worn footage would be released within 30 days.
The police department has several investigations underway. The Major Crimes Bureau is looking into the use of force by the officers, while the Internal Affairs Bureau is conducting an administrative investigation. An independent review will be done by the Police Auditor, the department said. The results of the Major Crimes Bureau’s probe will be turned over to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Johnson’s family plans to hold a vigil to remember Timothy at 5 p.m. Friday at the Fairfax County Government Center.
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