DRAPER, Utah – It’s been nearly four years since Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson was shot and killed in the line of duty, and now the city of Draper is making sure he won’t be forgotten.
A memorial statue was unveiled recently, and Johnson’s widow, Shante, said she’s grateful for the tribute to her husband.
"I can’t put it into words, it means a lot to me that they would honor their first fallen officer, my husband, and also honor all of the other officers who serve the community,” she said.
It stands over 10-feet tall from the base, towering with love, protection, and bravery.
"I see both of those," Shante Johnson said. "I see in that statue him holding his kids and saying goodbye, and I also see it as a rescue mission and those kids being grateful."
The city of Draper unveiled the statue in honor of Sgt. Johnson. On September 1, 2013, Sgt. Johnson was getting ready to head home, when he spotted a parked car.
He stopped to ask if the driver needed help, and that’s when Timothy Walker opened fire. Sgt. Johnson later died from his injuries.
While the suspect faces life in prison, the community is still hoping to heal.
“We always wanted to find the appropriate ways to remember and to memorialize him, and the law enforcement profession in general,” said Chief Bryan Roberts of the Draper City Police Department.
The project was funded entirely from private donors, and after 18 months of planning and hard work the statue now serves as a reminder of honor and sacrifice.
"The Guardian" is designed to be interactive, with a bench where people can sit and reflect.
“If you notice the young man’s hand, his left arm is extended out,” Roberts said of the statue. “And that’s encouraging people to come up and touch and hold his hand and do those things.”
This September 1st will mark four years since Sgt. Johnson's death. To honor him, city leaders will place a personalized placard.
“A heartfelt thank you to them," Shante Johnson said. "We've been trying to do something to honor them and Derek for, since the day one, and it's so overwhelming and it's such a financial burden and for them to step in and just so graciously pull it together means a lot to me and my family."