Patrolman James Spencer Johnson

Patrolman James Spencer Johnson

East Lansing Police Department, Michigan

End of Watch Thursday, October 25, 1984

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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.


  • Age 41
  • Tour 11 years
  • Badge 15

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender Sentenced to life

Most Recent Reflection

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018, the East Lansing Police Department displayed a renewed memorial for Ofcr. James S. Johnson at the department. It has been 34 years but the memory of that day is still strong for all of us who was working for the department during that time. The department has not forgotten nor have all the current and past members of the department of your sacrifice that day. We still morn your loss but carry on as you would have us do. Evil will not win the fight. Until we all stand for the last roll call, blessing to you and family.

Daniel Purtill, retired officer
ELPD 1968-1994

December 22, 2018

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