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Family of man killed by police calls for criminal charges to be filed against law enforcement

Fairfax County Police fatally shot Timothy Johnson in February.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — The family of a man killed by Fairfax County Police is calling for criminal charges to be filed again law enforcement personnel.

It's the latest development in the case of 37-year-old Timothy Johnson, a man fatally shot by Fairfax County Police on February 22nd after allegedly shoplifting a pair of sunglasses.

Melissa Johnson, Timothy's mother, emphasized that her concern was not with all police.

"This is not an 'us against them,'" she said. "We value and need our beloved men and women who serve in uniform."

"This is not that," she said, referring to her son's killing. "This is one incident where we need the leadership of Fairfax County Police Department to hold those two officers responsible for violating their own policies."

Despite her plea, no charges have been filed in connection with her son's death, but an investigation is underway.

Sergeant Wesley Shifflett, the officer who fired the deadly shot, was terminated from the Fairfax County Police Department in March for his role in the shooting.

"There was a failure to live up to the expectations of our agency, in particular use of force policies, protocols, and procedures," said Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis at a March press conference.

Another officer, Officer First Class James Sadler, has been placed on administrative leave.

Melissa Johnson's attorney Carl Crews argues Sadler should be fired as well.

"If I had to give Chief Davis a grade, it would be incomplete," said Crews.

"If Officer Shifflett did not follow police procedures, how did Sadler?" Crews continued. "Use of force policies apply to him. He does not get a pass. He's not going to pass here. He needs to be fired and charged as well."

Sadler's attorney could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Caleb Kershner, an attorney for Sergeant Shifflett, says his client acted lawfully and only pulled the trigger because he feared Timothy Johnson was a threat to his own safety.

"[Timothy Johnson] was facing Sergeant Shifflett, he was reaching into his waistband, he was not listening to commands," said Kershner in a March interview. "[Shifflett] thought he was an actual dead man."

When reached by phone Saturday afternoon, Kershner reiterated those comments. He said that the death of Timothy Johnson is a "sad and unfortunate situation," but "Mr. Shifflett acted 100% according to his training and acted within the law." According to Kershner, Shifflett plans to appeal his termination from the Fairfax County Police Department.

Police say no weapon was found at the scene, despite an extensive search.

Johnson's family disputes Shifflett’s claim of self-defense.

"As he laid there after being shot, Timothy yelled out: 'I don't have anything in my hands,'" said Melissa Johnson.

Fairfax County Police did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

When reached by phone Saturday afternoon for comment, Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Descano's office referred WUSA9 to a March 23 statement saying, in part, that Descano is investigating the shooting and expects "to make a decision on how best to proceed in the coming weeks."

The full statement, attributable to Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Descano, is available below.

“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. My heart grieves for the Johnsons, who lost a beloved family member over an incident involving a pair of sunglasses. Like many members of our community, I sincerely hope to see the day when police shootings are a thing of the past.

As the elected Commonwealth’s Attorney, it is my responsibility to proceed with a comprehensive and independent investigation of this incident, and that’s what I’ve been doing since the night of February 22nd. I expect to make a decision on how best to proceed in the coming weeks.”\



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