DISTRICT HEIGHTS, Md. (DC News Now) — The mother of the man shot and killed by police near Tysons Corner Center last week shared her pain and frustration. She said that the chain of events robbed her of an opportunity to grieve her son’s death.
Melissa Johnson’s life changed late Wednesday night when police knocked at her door and told her her son Timothy Johnson was shot. They told her that he died from his injuries.
“I was just stuck, I just couldn’t understand what had happened. I just couldn’t believe that my son was gone,” she said.
Johnson was known as “Timmy” to his family. He was a father, brother and loved one to a big family.
“He was a creative at heart. [He] wanted to try rapping, design clothes, design tennis shoes. I think he just wanted to blow up,” his mother said.
“He was Timmy, up till the day he took his last breath. He’s my baby, my firstborn, my only son, Timmy,” she continued.
Fairfax County police said they were called to the mall when the 37-year-old stole designer sunglasses from Nordstrom. After the initial encounter, he ran across the parking lot and into the nearby woods. Officers repeatedly told him to get on the ground, but when he continued running, two officers shot at Johnson. He was hit in the chest and died at the hospital.
Both officers were placed on restricted duty pending the outcome of criminal and administrative investigations.
“How does something like shoplifting result in my son being shot and killed, almost hunted down in the woods like an animal? That’s the part I want answers to,” the grieving mother said.
Police admitted on Thursday night that a search for a weapon at the scene turned up nothing.
“There was no gun found, there was no weapon found. Why do you feel the need to pull yours? There are policies in place that you shouldn’t even run after a person that has committed a misdemeanor,” said the family’s lawyer, Carl Crews of C. Lowel Crews, Attorney at Law.
“We need to see the body-worn camera footage, unedited, and we need all the facts laid bare. That’s what all we ask the Chief of Police to do… provide that information to us sooner than later,” he said.
The fight for answers and justice is making it hard for this grieving mother and the family to begin mourning.
“I’ve been deprived an opportunity to grieve because I can’t just say I’m a mom being notified that her son has passed away or that her child has passed away: that’s a different grief process in itself. Then you have all of this other cultural injustice, social injustice type of element attached to it, and then all of these unanswered questions — and then the police layer, so it has just deprived me of an opportunity to grieve,” she said.
“I have to be strong, I have to do this in love. I have to do this in grace and mercy like I have to do this in a certain posture, and that is heavy. It’s very, very heavy,” she continued.
Johnson and her lawyer want Fairfax county police to be transparent.
“Be integral Fairfax county police department, be integral Chief Davis, be integral over this process so that we can begin to heal as a family, as a community, and as a nation.”
The family will hold a vigil this Friday at 5 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center.
Fairfax County Police say the body-worn camera footage will be shared with the family first then released to public within 30 days. The names of the officers involved will be released within 10 days.
The investigation is being handled by the police department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, along with an independent review by the Police Auditor according to their policy.
“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,” the Fairfax County Police Department said.
The Fairfax County NAACP said they will be holding a community Zoom meeting to discuss the county’s police force. Anyone who wishes to attend can sign up online.