Bond denied for man accused of killing police officer

Published: Feb. 12, 2021 at 1:50 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A Kanawha County judge has ruled that the man charged in the deadly shooting of a Charleston Police officer will continue to be held without bond.

Joshua Phillips, 38, of Charleston is charged with first-degree murder for the death of Charleston Patrolman Cassie Johnson. Officer Johnson was shot on December 1, 2020 while responding to a traffic complaint.

Phillips’ attorney requested a bond be issued, which would allow him to go on home confinement and live with this mother in Cross Lanes. The attorney argued that Phillips was not a flight risk or a risk to the community, and that he is in poor medical condition. Phillips has been under constant care in the medical unit at South Central Regional Jail with bullets lodged in his spine and shoulder from the shooting.

Phillips was already out on bond at the time of the December shooting, Judge Carrie Webster said. He had been charged driving under a suspended license following a 2016 D.U.I. arrest. Webster said this was an example of Phillips not following the rules of supervised release, and could lead to him cutting off an ankle bracelet to escape from home confinement.

Webster agreed with Prosecutor Don Morris, who argued Phillips shouldn’t be given bail due to the serious nature of the charges. He argued a person would likely flee if they are facing a life sentence, and Phillips would not be out of jail for a long time. The Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office is expecting to be ready for a trial in March, Morris said.

The prosecutor described the events leading up to Johnson’s death and said Phillips is captured on body and dashboard camera committing the crimes he is charged with. Phillips is seen taking Johnson’s handcuffs away from her, throwing them across the street and holding her hands together so she could not call for backup, Morris said, as an example of the threat Phillips poses to the community.

Judge Webster said the nature of this crime gives her pause in granting release to home confinement. “This is as capital of a crime as we get in West Virginia,” Webster said.

Phillips could be granted bond in the future, following a Grand Jury indictment, Webster said. She also requested the jail make reasonable accommodations to assist Phillips recover from his injuries.

During the initial investigation, the person who made the traffic complaint said Phillips illegally parked his red 1999 Dodge Durango on her property.

Court documents said Johnson located Phillips as he went out the backdoor of a neighboring home and he admitted the car belonged to him. When Johnson asked for his license, he did not have it.

Morris said Phillips had a “dealer amount” of schedule four drugs with him. Phillips eventually started to act aggressively towards Johnson from inside his car. When asked to put his hand behind his back, Phillips refused.

With his handgun in his right hand, the complaint said, Phillips grabbed Johnson’s pistol and holster with his left hand to prevent her from having access to it. Phillips eventually shot his firearm five times, striking Johnson once in the base of her neck.

Johnson was able to shoot her firearm three times, striking Phillips twice. Documents said Phillips then left the scene as Johnson’s body laid motionless on the ground.

Phillips was found a couple of blocks away at his mother’s house on Garrison Ave., where police took him into custody. Phillips was taken to the hospital and treated for injuries in the officer-involved shooting. He was formally charged with murder on December 12.

On December 3rd at 4:00 p.m., Patrolman Cassie Johnson was pronounced dead at CAMC General Hospital.

Phillips was taken to South Central Regional Jail by Charleston Police on December 26.

For our previous coverage, click here.

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