TYSONS, Va. — The Fairfax County NAACP and the mother of 37-year-old Timothy McCree Johnson of D.C. are demanding an “independent, transparent, and comprehensive investigation” after he was killed by Fairfax County police officers.
Johnson was shot in the chest during a foot chase from the mall into a wooded area across from a Tysons Corner Mall parking lot on Wednesday night.
Investigators claim two officers suspected Johnson of stealing a pair of designer sunglasses from Nordstrom. The two reportedly chased Johnson for about a quarter of a mile and gave verbal commands before they opened fire.
"Out the parking garage, across a parking lot and into a wooded area, until what end? To get Nordstrom sunglasses back?" Johnson's mother, Melissa Johnson, questioned. "My son is dead because of it. It just doesn't make any sense."
Police searched the wooded area for about two days but found no weapon from the suspect. The department has not released the reason why the officers, who are on restricted duty status, fired their guns in the first place.
"I know my son did not have a weapon or ever had a weapon," Melissa Johnson said. "How does something from loss prevention and shoplifting end in another person's death because of a bullet being fired by a law enforcement official?"
The Fairfax County NAACP has questioned the police and its policy saying Johnson “had the right to due process, and for the sanctity of his life be respected by police officers to the maximum extent possible.”
"The tragic killing of Mr. Johnson reminds us once again how unjust America's policing truly is,” chapter president Michelle Leete said in a statement. “The facts as we know them to signal that the officers' actions were entirely out of step with FCPD's Use of Force policy.”
Leete wants FCPD to release unedited bodycam footage of the incident sooner to dispel any suspicions. They also want the names of the officers involved, their complaint history and the medical examiner’s report.
Police plan on releasing the names within 10 days of the incident, per policy.
The family has hired attorney Carl Crews, who also wants the video shown to the family sooner.
"We want the full truth of seeing the unedited bodycam," Crews said. "We need to see it now. Thirty days is way too long for the family not to have the truth."
Fairfax County Police will share the footage with the family before releasing it to the public, but has not said when that will be.
"The reason we don’t release body-worn camera footage, or any other pertinent evidence in any ongoing investigations (administrative, criminal, or otherwise) before a certain point is because the release of this footage can negatively impede our investigation and/or any administration or criminal actions that may or may not be brought as a result," FCPD said in a statement to WUSA9.
FCPD said its Internal Affairs Bureau is conducting an administrative investigation in accordance with policy, along with an independent review by the police auditor.
The criminal investigation into this use of force incident is being conducted by the Major Crimes Bureau. The results of the criminal investigation will be presented to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
"We want to bring peace and healing, but we also want truth and integrity over the process that we're supposed to trust," Melissa Johnson said.
She also wants the investigation to solely focus on the circumstances of the incident. She criticized Police Chief Kevin Davis for announcing that her son was known to law enforcement and had a violent criminal past.
“FCPD Chief Kevin Davis was quick to point out Mr. Johnson’s alleged 'violent history' and past offenses,” the NAACP said. “Regardless of Mr. Johnson's history, the facts revealed to date show that he was unarmed and suspected to be in possession of stolen sunglasses when fatally shot by officers.”
The Johnson family created a GoFundMe to help with funeral expenses.
Melissa Johnson said her son loved to design clothes and tennis shoes. He was learning to cut hair and wanted to be a barber. He leaves behind two children.
The family plans on holding a candlelight vigil on Friday, March 3 outside the Fairfax County Government Center at 5 p.m.