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

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Monday, July 11, 2022
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The grandfather of Jada Johnson, the woman who was shot by a Fayetteville police officer, released videos from his outdoor camera to ABC11.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The grandfather of Jada Johnson, the woman who was shot by a Fayetteville police officer, released videos from his outdoor camera to ABC11.

The footage reveals greater details behind the moment before, during, and after the fatal incident on July 1.

Rick Iwanski told ABC11 his granddaughter had multiple mental health crises during the week leading up to her death, including when officers responded to a 911 call at their Fayetteville residence.

Iwanski said Johnson was becoming increasingly paranoid that her boyfriend was trying to break in and harm them. Iwanski said this is what spurred the call to the Fayetteville Police Department last Friday.

Footage from outside the home shows the officer ringing the doorbell and speaking to Iwanski and another individual outside the home. Around three officers are seen initially responding to the call.

Most of the footage captured by Iwanski's home cameras depicts a calm scene; an officer is standing in the yard and near the garage and there appears to be a stretcher and EMS on standby.

Another video from the backyard shows that officers appear to be searching for evidence of a break-in, they later told the media there were no signs.

Then at the front of the house, two officers are seen running towards the front door and through loud noises, you can make out 'shots fired.'

Iwanski's footage doesn't show inside the home and helps answer the key questions of what the interaction was between Johnson and officers that led to her death.

The Fayetteville Police Department said last weekend Johnson had a gun and was threatening to harm herself. A spokesperson said officers on the scene tried for an hour to deescalate the situation and get Johnson to drop the gun.

Earlier this week, Iwanski said Johnson was not pointing the gun at anyone and was not a threat to anyone but herself.

"Nobody was in danger here. Nobody except her," he said.

He told ABC11 that before shots were fired officers brought his granddaughter to the ground and then he believes they fired around five shots in her back.

"There was no struggle. She didn't fight back. She did not do anything, just laid there and they killed her and murdered her in front of me," he said.

Members of the Fayetteville Police Accountability Task Force (PACT) said Johnson's death isn't an isolated incident and is another reason why police need to revamp how they handle mental health calls.

"We can't keep losing people unnecessarily. Something has to give, and I don't blame it on individual police officers. I think there are policy changes that could have been made that would bring mental health professionals into this conversation," said Shaun McMillian, the founder of Fayetteville PACT.

He said that based on Iwanski's description of events there appeared to be multiple times when officers could have intervened with more de-escalation tactics.

"Even if a person is armed, do we have to murder the person? Do we have to shoot that person five times? Could we have shot her in the foot to where we were able to get her away from the weapon?" Kathy Greggs, the cofounder of Fayetteville PACT questioned.

Greggs and McMillian have been critical of the Fayetteville police for years and have pushed to get a civilian oversight committee and an unarmed response team for mental-health-related calls.

"When we continue to depend on police with guns to inter with people at the height of a mental health crisis, I think we're going to get that result," McMillian said.

The activists are also calling on all city leaders to increase accountability.

According to the Fayetteville Police Department's policies, all officers do receive training for handling mental health. There are also officers who are specially trained in crisis intervention. These officers are supposed to be brought in if a call relates to a mental health crisis.

The department was unable to tell us how many, if any, of these specialized officers were on the scene last Friday.

No body camera footage or more details have been released surrounding the incident.

The Fayetteville Police Department declined to comment further as the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the case.

Once their review is complete, the case is submitted to the district attorney who will decide if charges are appropriate for the officer.