Source: Douglas Rissing / Getty
Truly living up to “American values” is holding violent police accountable for their actions and not falsely propping them up as heroes just because they wear badges and blue outfits.
Back in February, an unarmed Black man named Timothy Johnson was shot dead by a Fairfax, Virginia police officer after being accused of stealing sunglasses from Tysons Corner Center mall. Johnson was chased from the property and into the woods by two Fairfax cops, Wesley Shifflett and James Sadler when Shifflett fired the fatal shot that struck the 37-year-old in the chest. According to NBC Washington, a special grand jury has now indicted Shifflett after an initial grand jury failed to do so back in April, he was subsequently fired as a police sergeant.
Timothy’s mother, Melissa Johnson, expressed her gratitude for the grand jury’s decision:
“I’m so grateful to God for just this victory in this small step in the process, because what I’m cognizant of is, a lot of families, this is not their story,” she said Thursday.
Shifflett’s lawyer, Caleb Kershner, accuses Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano of playing politics by rigging the process against his client.
“Descano’s actions have made Fairfax less safe. He has torn down the deparrment moral. He is simply Monday mornimg quarterbacking an officers desition to use lethal force when he reasonably believed he about to be shot. its easy to sit back and second guess an officers actions. few people understand what its like to have a gun pulled on you and regularly being put in risk of death. these men and women in uniform serve by putting their lives on the line every day. Descano has no concept of that. A grand Jury returned no true bill earlier this year. that wasnt good enough for this Commonwealth attorney. he had to assemble a special grand jury so he could control the process and get an indictment. Its purely political and shameful.”
Lef Shifflett tell it, Johnson was reaching for his waistband during the chase and he believed that he was in danger of being shot. No weapon was found on the scene.
Shifflett is due to appear in court on October 20, 2023.