SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio police officials on Friday released footage of the fatal shooting last month of a man in a West Side neighborhood.
Friday’s critical incident video release comes 18 days after the shooting of Kevin Johnson, significantly sooner into the department’s 60-day timeline compared to previous video releases. Community members, including Johnson’s family, had called for the footage to be released in the days after he was was killed.
Johnson, 28, was wanted on multiple felony warrants when officers with the department’s Street Crimes Unit located him March 14, around 3:45 p.m.
Johnson is seen in dash-camera video riding a bicycle before an officer swerves near him and attempted to stop him. It is not clear if the officer’s vehicle made contact with Johnson before he runs away from officers.
After a foot pursuit with officers covering about two city blocks, Johnson runs through a shallow creek between Elmendorf Street and Hamilton Avenue.
At one point, an officer is recorded on his body-worn camera appearing to tell Johnson to “get down boy.”
In a narration of the video released Friday, SAPD Deputy Chief Chris Benavides said officers spotted a gun in Johnson’s right hand as he exited the creek.
Officers repeatedly shout for Johnson to drop the gun as he appears to trip and roll forward into the embankment on the other side of the creek.
After one officer says Johnson has a gun in his hand and officers yell “Gun! Gun! Gun!” they fire a flurry of shots at Johnson, killing him.
A handgun was recovered at the scene. SAPD officials included a still image of the grass-covered gun, with a bullet lodged at an angle in the chamber, in Friday’s video release.
Benavides, in the video release, said Johnson was still holding the gun and had rolled forward with his body and firearm facing officers when they fired at him. He also said the gun has been “forensically linked” to “multiple violent crimes.”
SAPD officials included a slowed down and zoomed-in angle of the shooting recorded by an officer’s body camera that appears to show a black object in Johnson’s right hand moments before officers fired their weapons.
One officer’s body camera footage did not include audio, likely indicating he did not turn on the camera until after he had finished shooting, causing the camera’s fail-safe function to at least record video of the encounter.
San Antonio police posted the video on their Youtube account. Viewer discretion is advised.
Aftermath of Kevin Johnson’s death
A chaotic scene unfolded in the West Side neighborhood shortly after Johnson was killed.
A crowd gathered around the scene chanted obscenities and rocked an SAPD vehicle. A police vehicle’s tire was slashed, according to footage and audio captured by a KSAT camera, and a patrol vehicle’s windshield was shattered by a large object.
Officers deployed pepper spray on some members of the crowd as the scene grew more chaotic.
Johnson, at the time of his death, was wanted on a March 7 warrant for being a felon in possession of a firearm, court records show. SAPD officials have also said Johnson was wanted on a warrant for violating his parole in a previous assault of a peace officer case.
That 2019 felony conviction for assault on a public servant prohibited Johnson from being in possession of firearms.
The March 7 warrant stemmed from an incident a month earlier, in which two people identified as friends of Johnson told investigators he had fired a gun in the air several times while he “appeared under the influence of some narcotic and behaved very paranoid,” the warrant states.
Johnson’s social media attracted police attention
A KSAT 12 Defenders report Friday revealed that Johnson had posed with multiple handguns on social media hours before the fatal encounter.
A short video, which appeared to be recorded on a cell phone and posted to Facebook Stories under the account “Splash Johnson,” showed a man resembling Johnson whose face was partially covered by a handkerchief holding two handguns outside of a home.
In a second video, which shows Johnson inside a home with the handkerchief removed, he again holds two handguns and at one point aims one of the guns at the camera.
In a third video, recorded inside a McDonald’s and posted to the same account, the person recording the footage moves a bag to reveal a handgun placed on a seat at the restaurant. The final few seconds of video show that Johnson was recording it.
An SAPD official confirmed Thursday that officers working to locate Johnson were aware of the social media posts showing the handguns.