The Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney office has upheld that a deputy’s use of force in a fatal Aug. 5 shooting was justified upon its review of the Virginia State Police department’s investigation. The 5 a.m. shooting in Aldie, deemed to be done in self defense, resulted in the death of Johannes Wood, 58, shortly after Wood’s sister called 911 to alert police of bizarre behavior from her brother.
The investigation pieced together that morning’s events. According to reports, Deputy Jorge Zavala of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to the house shortly before 5 a.m. Zavala saw Wood through the window and asked over the police radio for a back up deputy with a taser, as he was not equipped with one. Wood saw Zavala and began to approach him while stabbing at the foyer walls with two knives. Zavala drew his gun and told Wood to drop the knives as he backed away from the door. Wood opened the front door and did not comply with Zavala’s orders to back away and drop the knives, according to the report.
Wood then turned to go back toward his sister’s room while stabbing the walls with the knives. Zavala entered the home and again asked Wood to stop, drop the knives and to talk to him. Wood began walking toward Zavala again and would not stop or drop the knives as asked.
When he was two to three feet away, Zavala shot him once in the chest. Wood was pronounce dead at the scene, according to the report.
In total, the investigation found Zavala told Wood to drop the knives 13 times, he told Wood to stop or stay where he was five times, he tried to get Wood to talk to him four times and advised Wood that no one wanted to hurt him two times. Zavala was wearing a microphone that recorded the incident.
Wood had been going through alcohol withdrawal, according to the report. The previous morning, Aug. 4, Wood called 911 because he was experiencing delusions where he believed someone was communicating to him through a body part that they were coming to harm him. Deputy Kenneth Foster responded to the call and recommended Wood be taken to the hospital. Wood declined and his sister said she would care for him.
Wood’s sister said in her statements that Wood had never been violent before, but at 4 a.m. Aug. 5, she woke up to the sounds of him throwing and breaking things in the house. He grabbed her hair and hit her in the face. Wood’s sister locked herself in her room and called 911 in hopes that the police could help him and take him to get psychiatric help.
The investigation included, but was not limited to: statements of witnesses; emergency 911 recordings; physical evidence collected at the scene; photographs; diagrams; law enforcement reports; medical reports; forensic laboratory reports and an audio recording of the incident.
No criminal charges will arise as a result of this incident. The public may access this report by going to www.loudoun.gov/oca.