(Updated at 9:35 a.m. on 4/18/2023) A Fairfax County grand jury opted not to indict the police officer accused of shooting and killing Timothy Johnson outside Tysons Corner Center in February.
The Fairfax County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney was scheduled to share an update in the case with a press conference at noon, but the event was canceled after the grand jury’s decision came out. The news was first reported by NBC4 Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in a statement that he had anticipated the grand jury to come through with an indictment, to the point where he told Johnson’s family this morning that they could expect one.
“I can only imagine their pain and shock when they received the news that the officer — who shot and killed their unarmed son — was not indicted,” Descano said. “Since, by law, no prosecutors were permitted to be present in the room when the investigating officers made their presentation to the grand jury, I can’t say for sure what information was conveyed to the grand jurors. In light of this outcome, I am evaluating all options on the path forward and continue to grieve Timothy’s loss.”
Prosecutors had sought charges for involuntary manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm.
An attorney representing Johnson’s family said the family had no comment for the time being. The Fairfax County Police Department didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
Two police officers shot and killed Johnson, a 37-year-old man from Maryland, after pursuing him by foot across a parking lot at Tysons Corner Center on Feb. 22. He had allegedly tried to shoplift sunglasses from Nordstrom.
Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis fired one of the officers involved in the shooting last month. While the officer’s name wasn’t mentioned, the Washington Post reported that he was Sgt. Wesley Shifflett, a seven-year veteran of the department who was believed to have fired the fatal shots.
The second officer — previously identified as eight-year veteran James Sadler — was kept on modified restricted duty but remains employed by the FCPD.
In the wake of the shooting, Johnson’s parents and the Fairfax County NAACP have questioned the uptick in shootings by county police under Davis’s tenure, particularly in 2022, and the department’s lack of a policy dictating when officers should engage in a foot pursuit, despite one being recommended.
The FCPD announced on March 3 that it had agreed to let the nonprofit Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) study the recent shootings for broad trends, though the study won’t specifically focus on Johnson’s death.
PERF will also provide guidance to the department for a potential foot pursuit policy.