Correctional Officer Ronald E. "RJ" Johnson

Correctional Officer Ronald E. "RJ" Johnson

South Dakota Department of Corrections, South Dakota

End of Watch Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ronald E. "RJ" Johnson

Correctional Officer Ronald Johnson was killed by two inmates who were attempting to escape from the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls.

The inmates attacked Officer Johnson, beat him with a metal pipe, and then wrapped his head in plastic wrap. One of the inmates then put on Officer Johnson's uniform. As the inmate wheeled out a large box with the other inmate inside another officer didn't recognize him as a fellow officer and confronted him.

The officer was attacked, but was assisted by other officers who witnessed the attack on surveillance cameras. Both inmates were subdued before being able to escape. One of the inmates who murdered Officer Johnson had been involved in several successful and attempted escapes before.

Officer Johnson was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries a short time later.

Both inmates were charged with first degree murder, first degree murder-kidnapping, and assault. One of the inmates pleaded guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to death. He was executed by lethal injection on October 15th, 2012. The other inmate involved in the escape was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. A third inmate, who provided material used in the murder but did not participate in the escape, was sentenced to life in prison.

Officer Johnson had served with the South Dakota Department of Corrections for 23 years and was murdered on his 63rd birthday. He is survived by his wife, two children, and six grandchildren.


  • Age 63
  • Tour 23 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Weapon Blunt object; Pipe
  • Offender Executed in 2012

Most Recent Reflection

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I miss you old friend, I remeber when I saw the news, I remember the man who taught me to count in East Hall all those years ago, and I remember you by speaking your name to the hundreds of officers that I have trained since the day you trained me. God's speed RJ, rest well've earned it.

Berl Goff II Deputy Warden / Major

May 18, 2018

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