CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia police officer has died two days after being shot by a suspect while responding to a parking complaint.
The city of Charleston announced officer Cassie Johnson’s death in a news release Thursday. Johnson, 28, joined the city as a humane officer in October 2017 and was sworn in as a patrol officer in January 2019.
“Cassie was an exemplary police officer. She embodied everything that the Charleston Police Department is and strives to be — courageous, compassionate and selfless for the citizens of the city that she loved,” Police Chief Tyke Hunt said in the statement. “Her legacy will live on in the officers and the citizens that she touched and inspired everyday.”
City flags were ordered lowered to half-staff.
“We are heartbroken at the loss of Cassie,” Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said. “She was always willing to lend an extra hand, going above and beyond in every situation. The City of Charleston is a safer, more vibrant place because of Cassie and we are grateful for her service.”
Joshua M. Phillips, 38, of Charleston, is accused of shooting Johnson, Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford said. Phillips also was wounded on Tuesday and was taken into custody a short distance away. He remained hospitalized. No charges were immediately filed.
According to a criminal complaint, Phillips had been free on bond from a January 2020 weapon-related arrest, news outlets reported.
Tributes to Johnson poured in from state officials.
“I know our entire home state feels the loss of a first responder – those who are selflessly willing to put themselves in harm’s way to protect and serve our communities,” U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said on the Senate floor that everyone should recognize the sacrifices that police officers make.
“Police officers like Officer Johnson never know what’s around the corner,” Capito said. “You never know. She thought she was going for a parking violation. It’s a hard job and one that is rarely appreciated enough.”
Sgt. Brian Humphreys, a sheriff’s spokesman, told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that the call to police Tuesday came after Phillips allegedly parked a vehicle in a driveway that was not his. Phillips then went into a home across the street. After he left the home, Phillips was met by Johnson and the two started having a discussion.
Humphreys said Phillips allegedly used his own firearm to shoot Johnson, hitting her once in the face. Johnson shot Phillips, striking him twice in the torso, according to Humphreys. It’s unclear who shot first, although it’s believed Johnson first pulled out a gun, the spokesman said.