Politics is less important in Charleston since last Tuesday. So is the pandemic, as well as presidential succession. For last Tuesday was the day Charleston Police Officer Cassie Johnson, 28, was shot. On Thursday, she was taken off life support and died that afternoon. Today is her funeral.
You know the story by now. Patrolman Johnson was responding to a parking complaint when she was shot in the face, allegedly by Joshua Phillips, 38.
Apparently, the suspect parked his SUV in a Garrison Avenue driveway that wasn’t his and entered a nearby house. A police report was made, and Patrolman Johnson responded alone to the call. A confrontation between the patrolman and suspect escalated resulting in both pulling weapons.
It is not clear yet what specifically happened. However, shots were exchanged, and Officer Johnson was hit once in the face and the suspect was struck twice in the torso. Patrolman Johnson was immediately put on life support to preserve her organs for donation.
The suspect was apprehended shortly after the event and underwent surgery for gunshot wounds.
It is known that the suspect was out of jail on bond after being charged with driving on a revoked license DUI in January, according to court records. A 2019 charge for brandishing a firearm was dropped against him in July after the victim failed to show up in court.
Hundreds of residents gathered at Laidley Field last week for a candlelight vigil to honor Patrolman Johnson, a Charleston native and Capital High School alumna. She was sworn into the Charleston Police Department in January 2019 after joining the city as a humane officer in October 2017.
She was well known for her love of dogs.
The Charleston Police Department retired her unit number — 146 — to honor her heroism, as reported in a police department news release.
A GoFundMe for Johnson raised $56,950 as of Sunday morning, doubling its goal in less than 24 hours, with more than 1,200 people donating.
Patrolman Johnson’s friend from the State Police Academy, Erin Beth, posted on Facebook: “On a cold, rainy January day ... I was greeted by the friendliest of faces (at the State Police Academy) ... . Not what I was expecting but a welcome surprise. ‘Hey there, my name is Cassie Johnson. I’m with Charleston PD.’ And in return I introduced myself. Little did I know that introduction would lead me to the privilege of not only knowing one amazing individual but gaining not only a best friend but a sister. We battled, struggled, and tackled 16 weeks on the hill together, which is no small feat. ... We stood side by side in formation, together. We marched together. All of which strengthened the already inseparable bond we formed and shared, together ... . Your smile and laugh were contagious; your positive attitude and work ethic is the ultimate standard.
“The love, guidance, and wisdom you exhibited was nothing short of extraordinary. I can only hope you heard my words and felt me holding your hand yesterday. I did not want a guardian angel for Christmas, but our family (of close fellow Academy graduates) ... is damn lucky to have you as ours.”
Following a hero’s funeral service at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center at noon today, she will be conveyed to her final resting place in our community of Sissonville.
Many are expected to line the procession’s route (Tuppers Creek Exit 111, east on Call Road, and north on Sissonville Drive to Floral Hills Memorial Cemetery) to show respect for her.
And as we do, we will not forget the many other police and first responders who protect us from harm each day, regardless of our political persuasion.
Just like Patrolman Cassie Johnson did.
May she rest in peace. God bless.