Before he died, Travis Paul Johnson told his mother he didn't hold a grudge against the police officer who had shot him.
"He was a very good man," Penny Johnson said of her son. "The only thing he cared about was forgiving the police officer."
Johnson, 39, died Tuesday at Intermountain Medical Center. A West Valley City police officer shot him in a Burger King parking lot near 3500 South and Redwood Road on Jan. 27 during an alleged drug deal.
According to West Valley City Police, Johnson hit an officer with his Pontiac Grand Am as he tried to drive away from officers. At least three plainclothes officers were monitoring the alleged drug exchange between Johnson and a friend and people in a second car moments before the shooting, West Valley City police Capt. Tom McLachlan said.
Penny Johnson said Wednesday that her son used drugs, but she said she believed him before he died when he told her he wasn't involved in a drug deal.
What she can't come to grips with is why police had to shoot him.
"I don't know why the policeman shot him" she said. "He didn't hit him [with the car] on purpose. He just panicked."
Johnson said her son had been a construction worker until May 2008 when he fell 50 feet off a roof and shattered both ankles and his back. She said he was scheduled to undergo surgery again soon and had been on the mend.
Johnson admits she doesn't know "totally everything that happened" on Jan. 27. She just wishes her son was still alive.
"He just got caught in a bad place and he was afraid," Johnson said. "I don't think he should have been shot. He was unarmed."
McLachlan previously told The Salt Lake Tribune that at least one officer fired at Johnson because he thought the other officer's life was in danger when the car ran over the officer's foot.
After Johnson was shot, his car rolled forward into the Burger King wall where it stopped.
Police arrested four other men in connection with the incident. They remain incarcerated in the Salt Lake County jail.
The Salt Lake County Attorney's Office is reviewing the case, but has not yet issued a ruling on whether the use of force was justified by police.
Johnson said she and her 10 other children are preparing to bury Travis on Saturday.
"My son was very loving, very good and had a very big heart," she said.