Virginia police officer Wesley Shifflett has been terminated following the release of bodycam footage showing the fatal shooting of Timothy Johnson.
The 37-year-old was killed last month (Feb. 22) after an alleged shoplifting incident at Tysons Corner Center. Nordstrom loss prevention members alerted Fairfax police that Timothy was caught in the act of stealing designer sunglasses. Timothy attempted to evade Shifflett, Officer James Sadler, and members of the Tysons Urban Team task force by leading them on a foot chase from the shopping center through a parking garage and parking lot and into the nearby wooded area. During the pursuit, both Shifflett and Sadler fired a total of three shots. Timothy suffered a lethal wound to the chest and was pronounced dead at a hospital. While police did recover two pairs of sunglasses at the scene, it was determined that Timothy had been unarmed during the encounter.
“The officer’s actions do not meet the expectations of our police department,” said Police Chief Kevin Davis about the administrative separation that took place on Thursday (March 23). Davis added that, more specifically, Shifflett, a seven-year veteran, failed to meet the agency’s standards for use of force. Sadler remains on modified restricted duty, and the department’s investigation is ongoing.
Timothy’s family was shown the footage of his final moments on Wednesday (March 22). “No parent should have to view the killing of their child and then be asked to give remarks,” said Melissa Johnson about her son after viewing the eight-minute video. “However, here we are, and here I stand,” she added.
“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,” said Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano in a statement obtained by the Associated Press. “My heart grieves for the Johnsons, who lost a beloved family member over an incident involving a pair of sunglasses,” he added. In the coming weeks, Descano will determine if either of the officers will face criminal charges.