Family of catastrophically-injured rights activist pledge to get justice

Sasha Johnson’s mother said she is ‘a fighter’ who will ‘tell the story of who did this to her’.

28 February 2022

The mother and sister of black equal rights activist Sasha Johnson who was shot in the head last summer have pledged to get justice and said she is a fighter who will recover to tell her own story.

Ms Johnson, who has two young sons, was hit by a bullet and left with catastrophic and permanent injuries when four masked men stormed into a party in Peckham, south-east London, in May 2021.

Her mother Ellet Dalling and sister Shakira Williams spoke to journalists at New Scotland Yard on Monday after the criminal case against four men accused of the shooting collapsed.

In an emotional interview, Ms Dalling said: “She is strong, she is a fighter and she will come and tell the story of who did this to her.”

Ms Johnson, 28, is a founding member of the Taking The Initiative Party and had been a prominent figure in the Black Lives Matter movement last summer, but there was no suggestion that the shooting was targeted.

At the Old Bailey last week, prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said a prosecution could not go ahead for reasons that could not be set out fully in open court.

The decision followed a rare notification hearing, held behind closed doors, which can be used in cases that involve evidence from informants or listening devices.

Her sister said that despite the case collapsing, the family are determined that they will get justice.

Ms Williams said: “One of the only things that’s kept us going is our faith. We were hurt, but we had to pull ourselves together because breaking now is not it. And we learned that it’s not over. This is a bump in the road.”

Her mother added: “We will get justice, and Sasha will come and let us get justice.”

Ms Johnson lost an eye and currently has no movement down one side of her body as a result of the shooting, which has seen her undergo multiple operations.

Fighting back tears, Ms Dalling said that she has been able to speak to her daughter in hospital.

Black equal rights activist Sasha Johnson
Black equal rights activist Sasha Johnson (PA Video)

“I told her she was going to be OK. She nodded her head at me, she squeezed my hand.”

Urging witnesses to come forward, Ms Dalling said: “Don’t let it happen to someone else again. Don’t go silent. These people that did this to Sasha need to come off the street. We need justice for Sasha. So please, I’m asking everyone at the party to come out and speak out for Sasha. We need justice.

“Don’t let it happen to someone else, get them off the street.”

Ms Williams said: “The silence is crazy, when you’re supposed to be shouting. A life. My sister. It could have been yours.”

The pair praised the strength of Ms Johnson’s two sons Cavali, 11, and Mykell, seven, as they released a number of new pictures of Ms Johnson.

Ms Dalling said: “They are strong. They’re keeping it for their mum.”

In a moving statement addressed to her sister, Ms Williams described the family’s ordeal over the past nine months.

She said: “We were left emotionally scarred and damaged on May 23 last year. We all got shot in the head. And the pain has been so much at times. It’s like we couldn’t breathe.

“How ironic because when you saw that George Floyd couldn’t breathe 1000s of miles away, you took it to the streets of the UK to fight for justice.

“Your boys have been so brave and strong, Mum’s heartbroken, but she’s been so strong. Every day you see what this does to a mother. I can’t put it into words, but the journey has been devastating.”

She added: “What happened in darkness will always come to light. The people involved in hurting my sister can toast all that makes them happy for now. But Sasha will one day wake up and tell her story.

“Because it seems she’s the only one with the strength of character that can speak out the truth to shed light on what happened to her.

“Gun violence is a dangerous crime. We need to save lives and prevent future shooting by speaking out. Sasha you’re a born leader. Say her name. Sasha Johnson, our everything. Wake up Sasha and finish your race.”

Sasha Johnson and her son Cavali, 11 (Family handout/PA)
Sasha Johnson and her son Cavali, 11 (Family handout/PA)

Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Penney who is leading the investigation into the shooting said many witnesses have refused to come forward.

He said: “Our biggest challenge is the wall of silence we have faced when appealing for witnesses to come forward.

“Sasha was at a party when she was shot. There were plenty of people there yet many have not been willing to speak to us.

“I know it is daunting, but our officers are here to do all we can to support anyone who is willing to come forward.”

Witnesses with information can contact the police incident room on 020 8721 4622 or to remain anonymous contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or online.

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