The group of suspects accused of shooting radical Black Lives Matter leader Sasha Johnson in the head last year at a party in London have had their charges dropped after witnesses have refused to cooperate with the police investigation.
A trial was set to start in March against four men charged over the shooting. However, at a hearing last week, prosecutors said they could not go ahead for reasons that could not be set out fully in open court, BBC reported. According to the prosecution, the case, now dropped, was based on circumstantial evidence with no direct evidence identifying any of the defendants as Johnson's attackers.
The trial scheduled to begin on March 7 was nixed after prosecution announced at last Tuesday's hearing that it would not be pursuing the case following a review.
Detailing the high-profile case in court, prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said he wasn't able to give the full reasons for the prosecution's decision but provided details as to why the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had no other option.
CCTV analysis, phone cell site, and call data showed the four defendants had planned and conducted surveillance before carrying out the attack with "murderous intent" on one or more partygoers, the court heard from prosecutors.
The four suspects have denied conspiracy to murder. 25-year-old Prince Dixon, of Gravesend, Kent; 20-year-old Troy Reid, of Southwark; 19-year-old Cameron Deriggs, of Lewisham; and 19-year-old Devonte Brown, of Southwark; had also pleaded not guilty to having a gun and ammunition with intent to endanger life.
Heywood pointed to a "falling out" and "hostility" between Deriggs and Brown, as well as the two youngest, who were aged 18, occupying the property, BBC reported.
The court heard that there were previous incidents and a panic alarm had been installed at the family residence just days before the May 2021 shooting.
Access to the garden party was restricted by security at a side gate and one of the attackers was carrying a handgun, the court heard. Heywood said Johnson, who was attending the party, was in a relationship with the oldest son living there.
The four men were released, but the investigation continues.
Johnson, 28, remains hospitalized after she was shot last spring at "a silent disco" in a garden of a Peckham house. Four men in balaclavas shot at guests, with one round striking Johnson in the head at "very close range," the court heard.
The mother of two has permanent and "catastrophic" injuries, police reported. Doctors have said it's a "miracle" that she is alive, according to Johnson's family.
While appealing for witnesses to speak out about the May 23, 2021, shooting, Metropolitan Police detectives said they've been met with silence.
Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Penney, who is leading the ongoing investigation, said that many witnesses have refused to cooperate with law enforcement.
"Our biggest challenge is the wall of silence we have faced when appealing for witnesses," Penney said of the case's continuing barriers, noting: "There were plenty of people there, yet many have not been willing to speak to us.
Penney asked the wider community to contact Metropolitan Police. "If you saw anything odd on the night, heard a careless comment in the days after, if you’ve spotted someone acting unusually or if you have any other information – no matter how insignificant – we really need you to contact us," Penney said.
Following the loss of momentum in the active shooting investigation, Johnson's family has since issued a renewed appeal for information from witnesses Monday, according to a new Metropolitian Police press release dated Feb. 28.
Johnson's mother, Ellet Dalling, urged critical witnesses to come forward, declaring that the "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," Johnson's mother begged the quiet witnesses.
Johnson's sister, Shakira Williams, told journalists Monday at New Scotland Yard that despite the case collapsing, the family is determined to seek justice. Williams said the family feels that "we all got shot in the head" when Johnson was attacked.
Williams said "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 thousands of miles away you took it to the streets of the UK to fight for justice," Williams said.
Left-wing politicians in the UK first suggested that it was a white supremacist attack against Johnson, a prominent BLM militant, for her anti-racism activism.
However, the court heard that there was nothing to suggest that Johnson, a founding member of the Taking the Initiative Party that emerged from the BLM movement, was targeted because of her prominence in the far-left activism scene.
"There are no specific descriptions of any suspects – we are appealing for anyone with any information to come forward," a Metropolitan Police spokesperson told The Post Millennial via email Tuesday. "We've previously said there is no evidence to suggest that Sasha was specifically targeted and that remains the case."
A friend of Johnson's told BBC News that she believed the incident was "more related to rival gangs" that clashed and that Johnson was not the intended target.
"So I think it's more to do with gangs or gang violence or rivalry or some type of dispute between two different groups, and the incident was not intended for Sasha as far as we are aware, as I am being told by closer friends and family," she said.
A speaker at Johnson's official vigil in Ruskin Park had implied that it was an intraracial shooting: "In every community, there are good eggs and bad eggs and we have to make sure those bad eggs are held accountable for their actions."
Last year, Socialist British MP Dianne Abbott falsely claimed that Johnson was the target of an assassination attempt because of her racial justice work.
"Nobody should have to potentially pay with their life because they stood up for racial justice," Abbott, who is Britain's first Black female MP, tweeted in May 2021.
Abbott's tweet containing the unsubstantiated claim remains up nine months later.
Abbott later appeared on LBC's debate show Cross Question and was asked by presenter Iain Dale if she "inflamed racial divides" by tweeting a divisive post without having done her "homework" that could've incited civil unrest.
"It is so wrong to accuse people of colour who raise issues in relation to race of somehow inflaming feelings," the former shadow home secretary rebutted on-air
At the time, police reported there was no evidence indicating Johnson was the victim of a targeted shooting and she didn't receive prior credible threats either.
Portland-based Antifa member Melissa "Claudio" Lewis, an advocate for far-left violence who launched a legal offensive against The Post Millennial's editor-at-large Andy Ngo with a failed frivolous lawsuit, also spread the allegation.
"This is awful. Fuck whoever did this," Lewis tweeted a day after the shooting. "This is one of the many reasons activists choose to be anonymous, and many movements choose to be leaderless. People are hateful and dangerous."
Johnson has called for the abolishment of police, regime change in Britain, the removal of statues linked to slavery, and the enslavement of whites as reparation.
She rose to prominence in 2020 when she advocated for the creation of an armed black militia and the overthrowing of capitalism. "The white man will not be our equal but our slave," Johnson once tweeted. "History is changing..."
Outlining the TTIP's manifesto in a December 2020 interview with MailOnline, she called for a national register of alleged racists that would ban the accused from living near ethnic minorities. The list would include individuals guilty of "micro-aggressions," which the Oxford Dictionary defines as "indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalised group."
"It's similar to the sex offenders register. If you were to be racially abusive to someone, [the register] would question whether someone is fit enough to hold a particular job where their bias could influence another person's life," she said.