Commonwealth’s Attorney says deadly force was justified in Wells Fargo shooting

Posted at 10:28 PM, Sep 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-07 22:45:24-04

Norfolk, Va. - Joshua Johnson, 22, was killed after being shot by a Norfolk Police officer at the Wells Fargo on Colonial and 21st on May 20th, 2013.

The Commonwealth's Attorney says he has determined that deadly force was justified in the shooting under the circumstances.

He says Officer M. Watson discharged his weapon to protect the safety of his partner, Officer M. Williams, who was injured during the incident. Police say Williams was shot in the leg and was hit by the car Johnson was driving.

Officials say on the day of the incident, Johnson and 21-year-old Virgie May Hairston drove into the drive through of the bank and attempted to negotiate a stolen check.

The employees at the bank say they recognized Johnson, who was driving a gold Mercedes at the time. Officials say an employee saw Hairston rolling what looked like a marijuana cigarette inside of the vehicle.

Management investigated and found the actual owner of the check was a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy. She told them that while she was attending a soccer game near Ghent Elementary on May 6th, someone broke the window in her car and stole her purse which contained her checkbook.

Once bank employees verified who owned the check, they alerted police.

Watson and Williams were then dispatched to the scene.

One officer parked and approached the vehicle from behind with his weapon drawn while the other officer pulled his patrol vehicle across the drive-through lanes of the bank, preventing the suspect’s car from pulling forward.

Johnson placed the vehicle in reverse and accelerated officials say, hitting Williams.

The Commonwealth's Attorney says during an interview, Officer Watson specifically said he wanted to avoid having to fire his weapon and only did it when he believed his partner's life was in jeopardy.

Williams was shot in the left thigh and his lower left leg and foot were injured from the impact of the car officials say.

He says Watson instructed Johnson to turn the car off. Williams says he heard the car's engine start to revv up and he tried to move out of the way but was unsuccessful.

He says the car hit him in the groin area and he was then propelled onto the trunk of the car. He says he then heard gunshots but was unsure who was shooting at the time.

Williams says he fell onto the ground and was partially under the car with his legs under the bumper.

He says if the car had continued to back up, his torso, stomach, chest and possibly his head would have been run over. The officer says the car stopped briefly and he tried to move his legs but the car continued to back up and ran over his left foot. The car then crashed into a light pole and hit the Long and Foster building.

The Commonwealth's Attorney says the weapon was not fired until after Johnson started to back the car up putting Officer Williams in danger. He says several witnesses, including the woman inside of the car at the time, confirmed this.


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