Draper community remembers Sgt. Derek Johnson one year after death

Posted at 9:57 PM, Sep 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-02 10:21:49-04

DRAPER, Utah -- The Draper community came together to honor Sgt. Derek Johnson Monday night, one year after he was killed in the line of duty.

The Draper police officer was shot and killed after he stopped to check on a car that was unusually parked along the side of a road.

While most were celebrating a national holiday, Labor Day looked a little different at Draper Historic Park.

“Today is harder than it was a year ago because today there is no shock factor there is no numb factor,” said Johnson’s wife, Shante.

In honor of her husband, Shante Johnson decided to organize a community event on the one-year anniversary of his death. With the help of family, friends and city, a crowd gathered at the park to share memories and pain.

“Derek loved his little boy and he loved me,” Shante Johnson said. “We will miss you, Derek, forever and always.”

Johnson was a beloved husband, son and brother, with 10 years of experience in law enforcement.

“We are getting through it the best we can, and we miss him every day. And the fact that it's been one year since I've seen his crazy smile and since he's given me such a big crazy hug, I think all of that is really setting in now,” said Desirae Payne, Derek Johnson’s sister.

One year after they lost him, though, Sept. 1 will never look the same in Draper, again.

"Sgt. Derek Johnson was 32 years old when he died,” said Mayor Troy Walker.

In a proclamation, Walker declared the date will forever commemorate the community’s loss.

“We hereby proclaim Sept. 1, 2014, and each Sept. 1 thereafter, Sgt. Derek Johnson Remembrance Day,” Walker said.

As they look back at the last year, the family has found comfort in knowing Derek Johnson’s memory will live on in years to come.

“I just don’t ever want to miss an opportunity to tell everybody thank you so much for what they’ve done for us,” Shante Johnson said.