The fatal shooting of Shaquain Tyrone Johnson by a Cary police officer last month is very puzzling to his mother.
Shekerah Johnson says the circumstances that police say led up to the shooting early May 28 don’t jibe with the young man she knew.
“I raised my son to love, respect and be a positive part of this world,” Shekerah Johnson wrote in an email to The News & Observer.
Cary police say they saw Shaquain Johnson, 22, leaving a home on Firetree Lane where a burglary had been reported. Cary Police Chief Tony Godwin said Johnson was carrying a stolen revolver and that Officer A.J. Lopez heard a shot and saw a muzzle flash before fatally shooting him.
Shekerah Johnson says her son was working two jobs and looking forward to enrolling this fall at Wake Technical Community College.
Johnson was born in Greensboro and moved to Raleigh with his mother in 2006. He graduated from Panther Creek High School, she said, and always had a job, starting at the age of 14 when he began working at the apartment complex where they were living, cleaning the property and pool area.
“When he turned 15, he worked for a pizza shop and from then on he always had a job,” Shekerah Johnson wrote. “He was interested in sports, hanging out with his friends and playing basketball. He would play for hours.”
Shekerah Johnson said her son was helpful and would assist other people, even if he did not know them. Two months before he died, Shekerah Johnson said he tried to help her take a radiator out of her car.
“We laughed the whole time because neither he or I had a clue of what we were doing,” she said.
Johnson also helped his mother with his sister, who became disabled after suffering a heart attack one day at school in 2013.
Police think Johnson broke into the home on Firetree Lane about two hours before he was shot. A woman called 911 at 2:38 a.m. to report that a man was inside her home while she and her granddaughter hid upstairs in a closet.
Chief Godwin said that officers saw Johnson run from the house when they arrived. He said officers set up a perimeter and searched the area with dogs for about two hours before finding him. Godwin said other officers were in the area and witnessed the shooting, but none of them were wearing body cameras.
Johnson was scheduled to appear in court in Durham two days after the shooting to answer a charge of misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Johnson also was due in court in August in Wake County, where he faced charges of misdemeanor larceny.
He had previously been convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia, but other charges of simple affray, shoplifting, disorderly conduct and littering were all dismissed.
“My son made mistakes as a person, but nothing that would have caused any harm to anyone or would have caused him to die like he did,” Shekerah Johnson said.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman will determine whether the officer committed a crime based on the findings of the State Bureau of Investigation. In addition to the SBI investigation, Cary police are conducting an internal investigation to see if all policies and procedures were followed by officers leading up to and after the shooting.
Lopez, 29, has been put on “alternative assignment status” while the investigations take place.
Following an autopsy by the state medical examiner’s office, Johnson’s body was taken to Steven Lyons Funeral Home on New Bern Avenue. Shekerah Johnson said she decided to not have a burial service for her son because he was disfigured by the shooting.
“I just don’t want to see him in a coffin, and his face was messed up pretty bad,” she said, “So, I will be just having a memorial for him.”