One year after her tragic death, fallen Charleston police officer Cassie Johnson’s fighting spirit lives on because of organ donation, Police Chief Tyke Hunt said Friday.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been one year since the good Lord called our sister home,” Hunt told a crowd that gathered for a ceremony marking the anniversary of Johnson’s death. “But this is not a day of sadness. As you heard, Cassie is not with us anymore, but her fighting spirit lives on in the organ donation that she made.
“We are continuing to do her good works, and we will never let that go by the wayside,” Hunt said.
Johnson, 28, was shot in the line of duty while responding to a traffic complaint on Dec. 1, 2020, on Garrison Avenue. She died two days later at a Charleston hospital.
Johnson’s decision to donate her organs saved five lives, according to a news release from the Center for Organ Recovery and Education.
Because of Johnson’s decision, a man in his 50s now has a new heart and “hope for a future,” said Jeremy Zeiders, a representative from CORE.
Another man “facing death” can breathe with the help of her two working lungs. Two other people, including a woman in her 30s, now live without the “debilitating side effects of kidney dialysis.” A man in his 40s can “make plans for tomorrow” because of her kidney donation, Zeiders said.
“The decision to be a donor was one that Cassie made before her death,” he said. “And as you can imagine, it is a decision that her family takes great pride and finds profound comfort in knowing.”
Zeiders encouraged people to honor Johnson by following her lead in registering to be an organ donor.
A former city humane officer, Johnson has been remembered for her determination in joining the police force and her love of animals, including a 14-year-old chocolate lab named Emma, who died a little over a month before Johnson did.
The man charged with killing Johnson, Joshua Phillips, has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial Jan. 10.
Defense attorneys for Phillips have asked to move the trial out of Kanawha County because of the media attention Johnson’s death received here. Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey has not yet ruled on the motion.