CHINO HILLS (CBSLA.com) — Last month, pursuit suspect Nicholas Johnson was fatally shot by a deputy — from a helicopter — during a wild chase in San Bernardino on the 215 Freeway.
The shooting was rare — it was the first such shooting in 14 years — and controversial.
Law enforcement said the suspect presented an extraordinary danger to the public and they had no choice but to shoot.
Gunfire pierced his windshield. Johnson crawled out of his SUV and he died on the side of the road. Weeks later, his grieving uncle is on a one-man mission.
It’s a story that is Only On 9.
David Selly has been taking signs to the San Bernardino County Sheriffs headquarters demanding a change in policy.
He explained to KCAL9’s Cristy Fajardo why he thinks sheriff’s were in the wrong.
“I never seen any spike strips deployed. I didn’t see any road blocks put up. I didn’t see them try any other means to stop him,” Selly says.
On September 18, deputies tried to pull Johnson over to question him about a home invasion robbery But they said he sped away. The family admits he had been convicted of fleeing from police in a vehicle twice before.
“That was Nic, he didn’t wanna be caught by the law,” Selly says.
During this final chase, he allegedly topped speeds of 100 mph. He also entered the 215 Freeway in Muscoy going the wrong way, hence why deputies felt he posed a clear and immediate danger.
After Johnson bailed out of his car, dying, his vehicle kept going and hit a family of three in another vehicle injuring three people.
The Sheriff’s department said the risky measure of speeding and going the wrong way on the 215 underscored the danger and they had to act.
Fajardo asked Selly what authorities should have done differently.
“In other high speed chases I’ve seen,” Selly says, “where the drivers are driving erratic, I’ve seen the cruisers back off. they have the helicopter find them and when they stop, the helicopter watches where they go and then they grab them.”
Selly believes the deputies put the public in more danger by shooting his nephew.
He told Fajardo that he doesn’t expect much sympathy from the public for his nephew — a 32-year-old car thief who has a sense of adventure and scrapes with the law.
But he said his nephew was also a fiancé and a father and that a jury — not deputies — should have ultimately decided his fate.