Fairfax Co. releases bodycam footage of fatal police shooting; 1 officer removed from duty

Officials in Fairfax County, Virginia, released body camera footage Thursday showing officers shooting an unarmed man near Tysons Corner Center last month.

Officials in Fairfax County, Virginia, released body camera footage Thursday showing officers shooting an unarmed man near Tysons Corner Center last month.

One of the officers has been removed from duty by the department, and the shooting remains the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, Chief of Police Kevin Davis told reporters at a news conference during which the body camera footage was played.

Timothy McCree Johnson was suspected of stealing a pair of sunglasses from the mall on the evening of Feb. 22, when he led two Fairfax County officers on a chase into a wooded area where he was shot.

The police chief called Johnson’s death “tragic,” but he could not characterize the officers’ actions in the video or give an opinion on what the video showed because it’s evidence in the criminal investigation.

“More often than not, the police body camera footage speaks for itself,” he said. “This time, it does not.”

The footage released Thursday comes from the body camera worn by Sgt. Wesley Shifflet, one of two officers who chased Johnson after he triggered an anti-theft alarm at the Nordstrom store in the mall around 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 22. The other officer, James Sadler, was in plainclothes and did not have a body camera.

Both officers, assigned to the Tysons Urban Team, fired their weapons — one officer twice and the other officer, once, the police chief said. Johnson was struck once in the chest.

The footage released by the department begins with surveillance cameras from inside Nordstrom and shows the two officers following Johnson into a parking garage, down a stairwell, and then chasing him across Fashion Boulevard into a wooded area.

The video does not clearly show what officers saw before the shooting.

Davis said the officer who fired the fatal round is the one who was removed from the department. He did not publicly identify the officer, saying only that as a result of an internal administrative investigation — carried out alongside the ongoing criminal investigation — the department decided to “administratively separate” the officer.

The paperwork was served on the officer Thursday, Davis said.

He told reporters it is the first time an officer involved in a fatal shooting has been removed by the department during his tenure.

“The officer’s actions do not meet the expectations of our police department … there was a failure to live up to the expectations of our agency,” Davis said, citing, in particular, the department’s use-of-force policies.

The other officer remains on what Davis called “modified restricted duty.”

The criminal investigation is being carried out by the department in conjunction with the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney office, which will ultimately determine whether the officers will face criminal charges.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in a statement Thursday that he will decide in the coming weeks whether the officers will face criminal charges.

“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 the statement.

“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.”

The Johnson family viewed the body camera footage Thursday, and a lawyer for the family called Johnson’s death “an execution by a Fairfax County police officer.”

Attorney Carl Crews said nothing in the video shows anything to explain why officers would have reasonably feared for their lives when they opened fire.

Johnson’s mother, Melissa Johnson, told WTOP last month that she wanted an independent investigation into her son’s killing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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