Patrolman James Spencer Johnson

Patrolman James Spencer Johnson

East Lansing Police Department, Michigan

End of Watch Thursday, October 25, 1984

James Spencer Johnson

Patrolman James Johnson was shot and killed inside an apartment while attempting to arrest a woman for auto theft.

As he was struggling with the woman her male companion emerged from a bathroom and shot him in the back of the head. The two fled on foot to a nearby residence where they shot and killed the unsuspecting owner. As they were trying to steal her car they were arrested by police.

The man was convicted of first degree murder and second degree murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. The woman was acquitted of Patrolman Johnson's murder but was convicted of the other murder and sentenced to life.

Patrolman Johnson had served with the East Lansing Police Department for 11 years.

Bio

  • Age 41
  • Tour 11 years
  • Badge 15

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender Sentenced to life

Most Recent Reflection

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Hello –

Last weekend I spent a number of hours running in and around Lansing and East Lansing in the Capitol Area River Run. A good portion of the marathon wet into territory that I studied as a student, worked as a Patrol Officer, used to live in and again studied in accident investigation school. I spent much of the day concentrating on the run and did not want to dwell on a topic that always comes to mind when I go to East Lansing. The tragic murder of East Lansing Officer Jim Johnson. While I managed to set that memory aside during the run I find it impossible today and so this mail to all of you that I know will understand what it means to loose men and women who stood tall.

Jim would say that he did not treat me special as a rookie or did he offer friendship that was above what he offered to all, but his normal seemed special to me. I felt helped and respected. He provided insight for me into this new profession, and a great balance of humor and focus that helped me move forward and remain safe. I can still see the laughter in his eyes and recall how he moved with ease when interacting with a citizen and how he moved with appropriate tension in a unknown situation. He, along with a number of other great Officers, taught me balance.

When I started to run longer distances I soon found out that lack of talent and big and slow were not attributes that got me the last 3 miles of a 13 or 26 mile run. I did learn that I could be inspired by the courage of those in the law enforcement profession and more specifically the courage of those that we have lost along the way. For many of my early runs I thought of Jim and his sacrifice for the community. I felt that my memory of him kept him close and my run would be, although inadequate, a tribute to his service. Soon after those early half marathons I decided to dedicate each race I completed to the memory and sacrifice of men and women lost in service to their communities.

My family joined me on a number of events as members of TEAM DOUBLE HAMMER (named so to reflect the sound of my foot falls – pound pound) and they also proudly support the teams goal of honor those we have lost. In doing so we hope to remind citizens that police officers are part of the fabric of life and when lost there is a huge tear that is not easily mended. When we honor those that have gone before us we also support those that are here in service.

Below is the message that I wear on my shirt during a race.

EACH YEAR OVER 130 LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE KILLED IN THE
LINE OF DUTY. FOREVER BOUND BY AN UNBREAKABLE BOND OF VALOR.
THOUGH WE MAY GRIEVE, WE MUST EMPHATICALLY REJECT DESPAIR....

I RUN – BECAUSE THEY CAN NOT.

Please take a minute to read the information on Jim that is attached. I struggled to run out the last ¾ of a mile on Sunday and once again used the “ fallen but not forgotten” to give me a firm push on my back as I ran to the end and then crossing the finish line gave them another measure of the honor and respect their lives inspired.

MARK BARTELL
77-79 EAST LANSING POLICE

September 22, 2015

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