Two Prince William County police officers who shot a Lake Ridge man after he threatened them with a knife Aug. 15 were “justified” in their use of deadly force and have been cleared of criminal wrongdoing, according to Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert.
Ebert’s ruling was released in a Prince William County Police Department statement Thursday, Aug. 22. Ebert made his ruling after reviewing an investigation by the Prince William County Police Department’s criminal Investigations Division, the statement said.
“[The officers] were confronted by [the suspect] with a knife and clearly were placed in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm. Consequently, in my opinion, the shooting was justified,” Ebert said in the statement.
The man who was shot, Mark Edward Johnson, 54, has been charged with two counts of attempted malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer in connection with the incident. He remains hospitalized for treatment for gunshot wounds to his chest. He is expected to survive his injuries, the statement said.
Edwards is in police custody while at the hospital and has a preliminary court date on Oct. 2. He could face more charges, police said Thursday.
“Additional charges are expected through indictments by the grand jury at a later date,” the statement said.
The Prince William County Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards is continuing an independent administrative investigation into the shooting. A final review of the incident will be conducted by the department’s “Use of Deadly Force Review Board,” which will examine all aspects of the incident, the statement said.
“The board will determine if the shooting was within policy and will make any recommendations as needed based on their findings,” the statement said.
The officers involved in the shooting -- Anthony Edwards, 27, and Michael Ragan, 24 -- were uninjured in the incident and have returned to duty. Both have more than three years of service with the Prince William County Police Department and have not been involved in any previous officer-involved shootings, the statement said.
The department also released a bit more information about the incident, which unfolded quickly outside Johnson’s home on the 4300 block of Flodden Court in the Westridge subdivision of Lake Ridge.
At 6:12 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15, the Prince William County Public Safety Communications Center received a 911 call from a third-party individual reporting a domestic dispute. The caller contacted police on behalf of the wife, identified as a 52-year-old woman. She said an argument was occurring inside the home involving her husband, later identified as Johnson, who was said to be threatening his wife with a screwdriver, the statement said.
The call was dispatched to officers at 6:13 a.m. The first two officers arrived at the home at 6:16 a.m. The officers encountered the wife on the front lawn of the residence, where she reported her husband was still inside the home and had threatened her and their children, the statement said.
During that conversation, the wife also informed the officers that Johnson was armed with a knife and a pellet gun, the statement said.
“Johnson eventually came to the front door of the home where officers issued commands. [He] ignored those commands and began to rapidly advance towards the two officers in a charging motion while armed with the knife,” the statement said. “The two officers opened fire with their department-issued handguns and struck the suspect, who was then subsequently detained at approximately 6:18 a.m.”
Additional officers arrived at the home to secure the scene. Officers provided first-aid until fire & rescue crews arrived a short time later to take Johnson to the hospital, the statement said.
Both officers were in full uniform at the time of the incident. The wife and children were also uninjured, the statement said.
Prince William County Police Chief Barry Barnard reiterated in the statement that the officers faced a difficult situation with little information. Barnard made similar comments to reporters on the morning of the shooting.
“Without hesitation, these officers responded courageously to this incident where little information was known about the armed assailant. The officers were presented with a difficult decision and had to act quickly to stop the threat, not only to themselves, but to his family,” Barnard said. “Thankfully no one else was injured during this encounter. Police work is complex, and we are appreciative for the support our community shows us every day.”