Coroner’s court jury rules justifiable homicide in the police killing of Johnson


Tribune Staff Reporter

A CORONER’S Court jury returned a justifiable homicide finding yesterday in the police-involved killing case of Walter Johnson, 40, who reportedly fired a replica gun at officers while wearing a makeshift bulletproof vest on Hospital Lane in 2022.

Constable William McKinney, one of the two subjects of the inquest, appeared calm and relieved as the five-person, all-female jury read its findings.

The other officer, Constable Tarino Curtis, was not present during the inquest and is reportedly in Canada.

Relatives of the deceased were not in court when the finding was read.

Owen Hanna, the chief welfare officer of the police staff association, and other officers were present to support Constable McKinney.

The officers reportedly shot and killed Johnson on Hospital Lane and Meeting Street on April 9, 2022.

This is the fifth consecutive justified homicide finding, with jurors returning the same finding last month in the case of 32-year-old David Deslande “Murder” Nicholls, who was killed in Fox Hill in 2017.

Two other inquests this year had homicide by manslaughter findings.

Officers this week testified that they were responding to information of an armed robbery when they encountered Johnson.

Inspector Errol Johnson, the lead officer that night, said the deceased raised a tan firearm in the direction of the officers before he heard a gunshot-like sound from the gun, prompting the two other officers to fire at the deceased.

Forensic officers testified that a replica Glock 19 pistol was recovered from the scene. One said this same replica matched the ones used in SWAT training. An officer also said that a phone was recovered from near the deceased.

Dr Caryn Sands, a forensic pathologist, said Johnson’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and right thigh.

Dr Sands also said that the deceased came into the morgue wearing a makeshift bulletproof vest lined with two metal plates; she said she had never seen anything like that before.

 In his closing remarks, Brian Dorsett, the officers’ attorney, argued that the officers performed their duty when faced with a visibly armed threat to ensure the safety of their colleagues and the public.

Acting Coroner Kara Turnquest Deveaux presided. Angelo Whitfield marshalled the evidence.

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