LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4)– The widow of a Littleton dentist, who was shot and killed by Lakewood Police last September, is lashing out at police actions and the subsequent investigation clearing officers of wrongdoing, saying, “They need to have accountability for the people they are shooting at.”
The comments from Michelle Johnson this week came at the same time that a CBS4 Investigation obtained surveillance videotape of the fatal shooting of her husband, Scott Johnson, 57, a well- liked Littleton dentist.
“It’s just wrong,” Johnson said of the shooting.
According to police reports, witness statements and videotape, the couple- who had been married for two months- had been out to dinner on the night of Sept. 20, 2019 and had been arguing. They parked close to the Lakewood Police department and Scott Johnson, armed with a handgun, made his way to the rear of the police department, unaware of precisely where he was headed, according to his widow.
He had expressed suicidal thoughts in a phone call that evening to his son.
His wife followed him and the pair are seen on a Lakewood surveillance videotape arguing and “hand-fighting.” At one point the videotape shows Scott Johnson placing his gun in his mouth.
Lakewood police were called and multiple armed agents responded to the garage area where the Johnson’s were located.
“I was asking him to give me the gun, calm down… he was crying, upset,” said Michelle Johnson. “He was hurting and needed help.”
In statements to investigators, Lakewood agents say they ordered Scott Johnson to put down his gun. Michelle Johnson says she was just inches from her husband and never heard that specific command.
She told CBS4 her husband was having a mental health crisis, was melting down, but should not have been killed by police. The videotape shows a Lakewood agent open fire on Dr. Johnson shortly after the agent arrived at the scene.
In his statement, the agent said he was aware Johnson was armed and saw a silhouette of the pistol in Johnson’s right hand.
He told investigators, ”I thought he was going to shoot her in the head and kill her,” so he fired four shots.” I determined that the only course of action was to use deadly force to stop him from being a threat, hurt… killing her.”
In April, Jefferson County District Attorney Peter Weir ruled the shooting was justified writing, “Dr. Johnson posed an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to Michelle Johnson.”
Weir wrote that the agent who fired his weapon,” reasonably acted to protect Michelle Johnson.”
But Michelle Johnson, who has notified Lakewood Police that she may sue them for millions over her husband’s death, disputes much of the police account of what occurred. She said when he was shot and killed, her husband was crying, defeated and was not a threat.
”They literally gunned a man down who was sitting on the ground crying. They gunned him down, crying, that’s how they killed him.”
Lakewood police do not have body cameras, which might have provided additional views of what happened and audio.
“It would have been huge,” said Michelle Johnson of the difference police body cameras might have made. ”They should be recording their interactions with people.”
Lakewood police declined to be interviewed about the Johnson shooting citing pending litigation. But a department spokesperson said with the recent passage of a police reform bill, the department would be acquiring body cameras in the future.
An autopsy on Dr. Johnson showed he had alcohol and an anti- depressant medication in his system when he died.
And although Michelle Johnson is condemning the officer involved shooting of her husband, Scott Johnson’s sister, Linda, previously told CBS4 she does not hold Lakewood police responsible.
”I don’t blame the police at all,” she said.
Adding to the complexity of what happened that night, CBS4 has obtained audio tape of a phone call made the next morning from an unidentified man to a police dispatcher.
On the 10:47 a.m. call, the man tells a dispatcher, “We saw that shooting go down last night, we saw you guys shoot that guy and he didn’t have a gun in his hand and was just sitting down. We have video of it.” But the caller provided no further information saying, ”I’m afraid of the cops.”
Six months later, on March 2, 2020, the lead investigator on the case says he was asked to look into the call. He wrote in a report that the call came from a “City of Lakewood” number. When he did further digging on where the call came from, the investigator wrote the call came from a number associated with a woman who has made numerous unfounded sexual assault allegations, including accusations against law enforcement officers.
The investigator wrote that, ”I knew that the allegations made in Call 48 ran counter to surveillance footage from the scene of the shooting. With that, and (the woman’s) history of making false allegations, I made the decision not to call (the number)”. On March 6, the investigator told a Chief Deputy District Attorney “who was in agreement that sufficient steps had been take to determine the source of the call.”Michelle Johnson told CBS4 she believed it was “very concerning JeffCo would not follow up on a lead like that.”
A spokesperson for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office told CBS4 they would not be providing further comment on their investigation.
Michelle Johnson said, ”They killed my husband in front of me. They did not give him a chance.”