Deputy Sheriff Richard Johnson

Deputy Sheriff Richard Johnson

Harlan County Sheriff's Office, Kentucky

End of Watch Sunday, April 6, 1919

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Richard Johnson

Deputy Sheriff Richard Johnson was shot and killed after responding to reports of a domestic disturbance in the Wisconsin Steel Company camp at Benham, Kentucky.

As he approached the home with a neighbor he encountered the drunk homeowner by a shed. As they began to speak the man struck him on the head with an axe, fracturing his skull. The subject then took his service weapon and shot him several times before stealing his watch, badge, and money.

The subject fled the scene and burglarized a neighbor's home, stealing a box of cartridges. He was located at the train station in Pineville by several men who had been deputized to help search for him. When they attempted to arrest him he opened fire on them, killing Special Deputy David Elliott. He was taken into custody later in the day following a shootout with other deputies.

He was convicted of both murders and sentenced to death, but the sentence was later commuted to life in prison by the governor.

Deputy Johnson was survived by his wife.


  • Age 49
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Weapon Edged weapon; Axe
  • Offender Commuted to life

Most Recent Reflection

View all 5 Reflections

Deputy Sheriff Johnson,
On today, the 100th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Harlan County.

BPA Mike Casey
United States Border Patrol
El Paso Station

April 6, 2019

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