Family of woman shot and killed by Fayetteville police announce federal lawsuit

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Friday, April 7, 2023
Family of woman killed by Fayetteville police announce lawsuit
An autopsy revealed Jada Johnson was shot 17 times in 2022

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The family of a 22-year-old woman, shot and killed, by police in Fayetteville last year announced a federal lawsuit against two police officers and the city.

Jada Johnson's grandmother Maria Iwanski said her granddaughter gave an ominous prediction just days before officers shot her 17 times.

"'I know I'm not going to be here much longer' and she said, 'promise me you're going to take care of my baby,'" Iwanski recalled.

Iwanski remembers Johnson as a sporty girl who grew up into a dedicated mother. But then she became a shell of herself when she grappled with an abuse relationship and mental health struggles.

On July 1, 2022, Johnson was undergoing a mental health crisis when Fayetteville police officers arrived at her home on Colgate Drive.

Iwanski said Johnson was afraid of her abuser and suicidal. She recalls Johnson asking police to take her to the hospital. Instead, officers moved to try and arrest her.

"The officers had multiple opportunities to de-escalate a mental health crisis. The officers of Fayetteville Police Department actually knew Jada already earlier that week. And instead of de-escalating a person clearly facing a mental health crisis, she was not a threat to anyone but herself," attorney Xavier T. De Janon said.

SEE ALSO | 'We can't keep losing people': New video released in fatal shooting of Fayetteville woman by police

The grandfather of Jada Johnson, the woman who was shot by a Fayetteville police officer, released videos from his outdoor camera to ABC11.

Police said Johnson had a gun and was a danger to her own grandmother, young daughter and officers at the scene. They said officers tried for nearly an hour to get Johnson to put the gun down.

Eventually, the officers wrestled Johnson to the ground. During the struggle, officers shot Johnson 17 times, killing her.

"There was no struggle. She didn't fight back. She didn't do anything. She just laid there, and they killed her and murdered her in front of me," Johnson's grandfather Rick Iwanski said.

Earlier this year, a Cumberland County judge ruled her family and representatives cannot speak publicly on the specific contents of the body-cam footage and can only watch it at the police department.

Johnson's legal team argues Fayetteville officers violated her civil rights the night she was gunned down in her own home.