A 26-year-old man was killed Wednesday in Thousand Oaks.
The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office determined a 2018 fatal deputy-involved shooting in Thousand Oaks was justified due to self-defense, according to a new report.
The 44-page report was released at 5:15 p.m. on Friday, nearly two years after the original incident. It covers the Oct. 10, 2018, shooting of Michael Johnson, a 26-year-old Thousand Oaks resident who died after he was shot 10 times by Sgt. Russell King and Deputy Justyn Czyrklis of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.
Written by Senior Deputy District Attorney Stacy Ratner, the report include details about the incident’s 911 calls, nine witness statements including the two deputies involved in the shooting, description and photographs of physical evidence from the incident, legal principles under consideration to justify the shooting and an analysis of the incident.
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According to the report, Johnson was supposed to attend a class at Moorpark College at 7 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2018. Instead, Johnson opted to go to the Crown and Anchor pub in Thousand Oaks, where he remained drinking until he left at 1:10 a.m. on Oct. 10.
Deciding not to walk home or take a rideshare car, Johnson opted to drive himself, crashing his vehicle a half-mile from the bar in the area of East Hillcrest and Duesenberg drives. Johnson was later found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.27, over three times the legal limit of 0.08.
An initial responding deputy reported seeing Johnson cutting himself with a knife he was wielding, leading the deputy to request backup. The backup was Sgt. King and Deputy Czyrklis.
Sgt. King ordered Johnson to drop the knife while Deputy Czyrklis and the initial deputy armed themselves with less-lethal shotguns, the report states. Johnson began to approach the law enforcement officers with the knife when Deputy Czyrklis fired all four of his less-lethal rounds to stop him. The other deputy also fired one non-lethal shot at Johnson.
Despite being shot five times with less-lethal rounds, Johnson continued to approach the deputies wielding the knife. He began to increase in speed approaching Deputy Czyrklis.
Sgt. King attempted to grab his taser to disarm Johnson, but when he observed Johnson speeding up toward Czyrklis, he grabbed his pistol and began shooting at Johnson, according to the report. When Johnson was less than 10 feet away from Deputy Czyrklis, the deputy also grabbed his pistol and began shooting at Johnson.
The incident involved 15 shots being fired in the span of 19 seconds, ending with Johnson falling on the ground. He was declared dead at 1:32 a.m., approximately 18 minutes after the initial crash was reported.
“Given the proximity of Johnson to Deputy Czyrklis and Sgt. King and the fact that he was approaching them with increasing speed, he could have easily stabbed Deputy Czyrklis, Sgt. King or both of them, causing great bodily injury or death,” the report states.
The report cites the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions 505 to define justifiable homicide as when “the defendant reasonably believed that he/she/someone else was in imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily injury.”
Both deputies reported to have feared for great bodily injury caused by Johnson and made quick decisions under a short span of time after utilizing less-lethal options which did not prove effective. The District Attorney’s Office ultimately determined the shooting of Johnson by Sgt. King and Deputy Czyrklis were instances of self-defense .
“The fatal shooting of Michael Johnson by Sergeant King and Deputy Czyrklis was a justifiable homicide,” the report concludes.
Read the report in full below:
Jeremy Childs is a breaking news and public safety reporter covering the night shift for the Ventura County Star. He can be reached by calling 805-437-0208 or emailing [email protected] You can also find him on Twitter @Jeremy_Childs.
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