Deputy Cleared in Fatal Shooting of Aldie Man

No charges will be filed in the fatal Aug. 5 shooting of an Aldie man by a Loudoun deputy, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

The Virginia State Police investigated the shooting. In the case, Deputy Jorge Zavala responded to a 5 a.m. 911 call from a Carriage Horse Drive home. The call was made by the sister of Johannes Wood, who she said had become violent while in withdraw of alcohol. She was locked in a room and reported being afraid her 58-year-old brother had a knife. Zavala approached the home and had an exchange with Wood, who reportedly held two knives and a pair of scissors, before fatally shooting him once in the chest, according to the report.

Zavala was not equipped with a TASER, but had requested another deputy respond with one. Also, he carried a body microphone, which recorded the encounter, including the deputy’s repeated orders to drop the weapons before the shot was fired. The recording showed that the encounter lasted about one minute.

A deputy had been called to the home about 20 hours earlier when Wood called 911. Deputy Kenneth Foster found him to be delusional, believing someone was trying to communicate with him through a body part and to harm him. Wood declined Foster’s recommendation that he be transported to a hospital and Wood’s sister said she would care for him.

She awoke the next night to find her brother in a rage, breaking furniture and yelling. After he grabbed her hair and hit her, she hid in a locked room and called 911 hoping to have him treated at a mental hospital. She then heard the deputy yelling and then the shot being fired.

Virginia State Police agents and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office discussed the incident in detail with Wood’s family members before releasing the investigation report.

“Mr. Wood’s actions and his failure to respond to Deputy Zavala created a situation that constituted an imminent danger to Deputy Zavala,” the report by Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Nicole Wittmann concluded. “More specifically, Mr. Wood’s refusing to drop the knives and scissors, stabbing the walls while heading in the direction of his sister’s room, and then turning and walking directly toward Deputy Zavala with the knives and scissors in his hands presented Deputy Zavala with an immediate and real threat to his safety as well as the safety of [Wood’s sister]. These actions as captured on the body microphone, and as described by Deputy Zavala and [Wood’s sister] clearly were of such a character as to afford a reasonable ground in the Deputy’s mind that there was a design to do bodily harm or kill and that there was an imminent danger of his carrying such design into immediate action.”

5 thoughts on “Deputy Cleared in Fatal Shooting of Aldie Man

  • 2016-11-02 at 8:14 pm

    Alcohol is far from the harmless thing people pretend it is. One of ten of us—”24 million adults over age 18—consume, on average, 74 alcoholic drinks per week. That works out to a little more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. In one week” (Ingraham, 2014, para. 3). Of the stacks of cases of beer and shelves of bottles of wine you, these profoundly addicted Americans are drinking well over half.

    Like the tobacco industry, the alcoholic beverage industry depends on addiction.


    Ingraham, C. (2014, September 25). Think you drink a lot? This chart will tell you. Washington Post. Retrieved from

  • 2016-11-03 at 1:05 pm

    Mr. McKeon. Is there anything, at all, that you won’t blame something on, other than the actions of the individual?

    No reasonable person believes alcohol is “harmless.” America has been aware of alcohol and its effects on society for our entire history. When you peel it all back, who profits most from alcohol in America? That’s right … government does. It all comes down to money. Tax money.

    As tragic as this is, perhaps if this individual refrained from approaching one of our deputies with two knives and scissors, and heeded the commands of the deputy they’d likely be here today. It matters little if your drunk, high, tripping, strung out, or just plain sober – heed the orders of law enforcement (try not approaching them with deadly weapons to start) and generally everything works out.

    The only person responsible for this is the individual who threatened those around him.

  • 2016-11-03 at 2:59 pm

    Reader Chris Manthos either lacks in reading comprehension—”Deputy Kenneth Foster found him to be delusional, believing someone was trying to communicate with him through a body part and to harm him”—or simply denies the reality that alcohol can cause loss of contact with reality, in pursuit of an opportunity to put forth his simplistic canard that “responsibility of the individual” was all anyone need consider. Reader Chris Manthos subscribes to an unmaintainable Just World view that everyone “gets what they deserve.”

    You can count death from gunshot wounds from gunfire of police officers in a year on Great Britain with one hand, with two hands those in Germany. In the US, however, Great Britain’s annual rate is the DAILY rate. This year only already over 800 died from gunshot wounds from gunfire of police officers—yet two months remain before the year is out.

    On Great Britain—where hunters have over a million long guns but very nearly no one has a handgun—police officers patrol without guns. The last time their officers died from gunshot wounds the President was running for re-election—in September four years ago. YESTERDAY was the last time US officers died from gunshot wounds—in Iowa, officer Martin in Urbandale and sergeant Beminio in Des Moines, the latest of fifty-one this year only.

    On Great Britain in their fiscal year 2014 thirty-one only died in murder by gun. The US population is five times larger. Scaling that to the US population—5 x 31 = 155 in 365 days—shows that were the rate of murder by gun that low here, the entire United States of America would be free of murder by gun on more days than not; but last year 155 was not the annual rate. It was the rate weekly. Murder by gun was more common than hours—9,616 in 8,760 hours.

    “No reasonable person” would take a one in ten chance of profound addiction to alcohol—but many do because adults who should know better do not counsel against it and instead take a very light-hearted view of alcohol—which apart from untimely and horrible death in car accidents is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States behind only tobacco (the cause of one in five deaths in the US and one in ten in the world at large), medical errors, and obesity/overweight.

  • 2016-11-04 at 11:22 am

    I’m hardly a true believer of psychobabble theories Mr. McKeon. I strive to observe people, places, things and events, good or bad, as they are, not as I wish them to be.

    No one from any alcohol company held down Mr. Wood and forced him to consume alcohol. I’ve never known an alcoholic who didn’t know they were an alcoholic. To be sure, some deny it, but in their hearts, they know. And they know they have a choice – keep drinking, or do something about it. Most choose to keep drinking. That is the real world.

    No one from any alcohol company, scissors, or knife company, forced Mr. Wood to approach and threaten one of our deputies. That is a choice he made himself. Again, if you comply with the lawful commands of law enforcement, your feelings may get hurt, but you most likely won’t die. That is the real world.

    In the real world, inanimate objects on shelves are incapable of anything unless they are picked up and used by a human — be it a bottle of whisky, a knife, or a firearm. It is people who act with these items.

    Let’s not discount the victimization of the deputy. I’m confident he’d rather have avoided the entire affair surrounding this dramatic experience forced on him at 5 in the morning. While it’s certainly in his job description, it doesn’t make it any easier. He didn’t deserve to have this heaped on him, but it did. That is the real world.

    How about we correctly allocate the blame where it belongs.

  • 2016-11-05 at 7:16 pm

    “Correctly allocating blame” does nothing to change the rate of death from gunshot wounds nor the rate of death from alcohol.

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