Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Sergeant Edward J. Johnson, Jr.

New York City Police Department, New York

End of Watch Friday, January 8, 1960

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Reflections for Sergeant Edward J. Johnson, Jr.

Rest in peace Sergeant Johnson.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

January 8, 2020

I entered the NYCPD on 2/24/59, eleven months before Sgt. Johnson was killed. His murder is indelibly etched in my memory because, as I recall, I was working a 4x12 and his was the first police killing I experienced during the short time I was in the job. As I advanced through the ranks, over my forty year career, I always used his death as a lesson for young cops on how protect themselves in such situations.

Captain Edward Mamet, Retired
New York City Police Department

December 22, 2019

A DETECTIVE FROM CHINATOWN

Detective Ray Taylor, 5th Precinct Detective Squad , was a rookie detective on January 8, 1960. It was a cold night in Chinatown 5th Pct. The patrol sergeant, Sergeant Edward J. Johnson Jr., phoned him about a routine crime report. The sergeant had just been transferred to the 5th Precinct as part of the annual shakeup prior to the Christmas holidays. The Police Commissioner at the time felt that such transfers would prevent corruption. It was not meant to be a reflection on the individual cops transferred, but that was no comfort for the cops that were moved. Detective Taylor was alone in the 5th Squad room when the call came in. The same Sergeant Johnson had been stabbed to death. They needed the detectives to respond to the scene of the homicide of a member of the service. Detective Taylor drove the few blocks to the scene and made a mental note of the sign outside the building at 227 Bowery that read: "A Friend of the Friendless". The domelights of the radio cars flashed against the building and blinded him as the street cops directed him to the entrance to the Mission. He almost gagged as the stench of a hundred derelicts wafted up the staircase. The room was packed with cowering men who had witnessed the homicide. The body of the Sergeant lay on the floor alongside the body of the suspect frozen in what had been a death struggle. The white-tiled walls of the basement room and the glaring lights created an eerie scene for the young detective.

The 5th precinct cops on the scene were in shock as they conferred with Detective Taylor. They spoke in hushed whispers and told him how they and the Sergeant had rushed downstairs into the cellar of the building at 227 Bowery on a report of a man with a knife. Sergeant Johnson and three other cops had just handled a fight next door in the Salvation Army Mission when the Bowery Mission watchman ran up to them for help. The watchman excitedly told the cops that a derelict armed with a large knife was threatening the other men in the basement. There were over 100 men being sheltered there that night due to the extreme cold. It was simply a large brightly-lighted room measuring 100 feet long by 20 feet wide. There were no beds or facilities. The men were charged a token twenty-five cents to spend the night. It was an act of charity to prevent them from the cold and possible frostbite.

Perhaps most of the men in the basement preferred the makeshift shelter to being picked up by the "roundup paddywagon". "Roundup" was the practice of placing the homeless under arrest during extremely cold weather. They were charged with Disorderly Conduct- "Vagrancy". The paddywagon was loaded with as many as it could hold and the men would be arrested and arraigned in Night Court. They would be sentenced to a short jail term during which time they would be deloused and fed. Hopefully, when the weather got milder, they would be back out on the streets. The practice was an old one and was designed to prevent the homeless from freezing to death in the streets. In later years, well-meaning civil libertarians opposed the practice and the Vagrancy Law was ruled unconstitutional by case law in the courts. Many of those in law enforcement felt that was a bad decision and would come back to haunt the City of New York.

When the cops responded into the basement, a berserk homeless man stepped from behind a corner and confronted the Sergeant. He was armed with what looked like a boning knife. Sergeant Johnson ordered the man to drop the knife at gunpoint. The assailant screamed and lunged at the Sergeant. Johnson emptied his revolver into the body of the vagrant as the crowd of derelicts cowered in terror. In the confined area, the other cops fired three shots. Although he was shot multiple times, the forward momentum of the attacker enabled the killer to drive the knife deep into the chest of the Sergeant. The long thin blade of the knife acted like an icepick and penetrated Johnson's heavy woolen winter blouse. The Sergeant died almost instantly. Johnson was an eleven-year veteran of the NYPD.

The Police Commissioner, Stephen P. Kennedy responded to the scene. 5thprcsm2 It was a cold night in Chinatown and young Detective Ray Taylor got a rude introduction to homicide investigations as a detective with the New York City Police Department. It was also a fact that the PC was only a few blocks away from the 5th Precinct. Police Headquarters was located at 240 Centre Street. To be a detective in the 5th Squad was to be working under the direct glare of the NYPD brass. The rookie Detective Ray Taylor would have to learn to work and perform under those conditions.
Cops were shocked by the facts surrounding the death of Sergeant Johnson. Rumors circulated that the killer wasn't stopped by a fusillade of bullets fired by the two cops. Was the .38 Caliber revolver inadequate for police service? As shooting incidents became more frequent in New York, that question would dog the NYPD for many years.

When visiting the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. you will see the name of Sergeant Edward J. Johnson Jr., New York City Police Department on the marble walls of the "pathways of remembrance" at panel 40 E, line 1. His name is enshrined with the names of thousands of law enforcement officers who have shed their blood for this Nation.

P.O. retired
NYPD 5 Pct

January 9, 2019

Rest in peace.

Lt. Jim Russo

January 8, 2018

As a rookie NYPD officer,serving in the 77Pct., I learned and took with me a sad yet poignant lesson which brought me safely through my 24 year uniform police career plus 25 years as a uniform college campus Public Safety officer. Sergeant Johnson was killed by a dead man!! So,when confronted in closed quarters by a menacing assailant,
" Look for something,a chair etc.,to shield yourself " Take note all you young guys,"Have a great career"

Sergeant Peter Corcoran {Retired}
NYPD ( numerous commands}

February 13, 2017

May his soul rest in Heaven. Thank you for your service Sergeant Edward J. Johnson Jr.

Retired First Sergeant Thomas Webb
New York State Police

July 26, 2016

53 years. Not forgotten.

RIP Sarge

TPF/SCU
NYPD

January 8, 2013

The members of the Coastal Carolina Shields will dedicate it's January 8th meeting in the memory of Sgt. Edward Johnson Jr. May he rest in peace.

Dennis Cangelosi, President
Coastal Carolina Shields, South Carolina

January 3, 2013

Your heroism and service is honored today, the 52nd anniversary of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

Your memory will always be honored and revered.


Rest In Peace

Phyllis Loya
Mom of fallen California Officer Larry Lasater, Pittsburg PD, eow 4/24/05

January 8, 2012

51 years-not forgotten

RIP Sarge

TPF/SCU
NYPD

January 8, 2012

Sarge-51 years after your death-you are not forgotten.
RIP

TPF/SCU

January 8, 2011

A TRUE AMERICAN HERO, REST IN PEACE MY FRIEND.

Lt.
NYPD

March 25, 2009

I said a little prayer today for Sergeant Johnson and his family. He may be gone but never forgotten. He died a New York hero.

Robyn

January 7, 2009

48 yrs. ago and Sgt. Edward J. Johnson Jr. will never be forgotten. God Bless your family, friends and NYPD.
Jan. 08, 2008

(Ret.) PO
City of Miami PD Fla.

January 8, 2008

YOU ARE REMEMBERED TODAY AND THANK YOU SIR FOR YOUR SERVICE

Pat Van Den Berghe, Manchester, NH
Neighbors for a Better Manchester, NH

January 2, 2008

To the Family of Edward J. Johnson.Your husband,dad,grand father is a true American Hero. Back in 1996, i was assigned to the Management Training Unit at the Police Academy.I was conducting training for sergeants and lieutenants when i was told about that dreadful night that Sgt. Edward Johnson lost his life. From that day i always mention Edward Johnson,and how he lost his life in order to protect others.Your father is a true American Hero. March 2006 i have been assigned to the MTU Once again. I am telling the story about a Hero to a new generation of sergeants and lieutenants. 46 years have pass,since we lost our friend ,God bless Sgt. Edward Johnson Jr.you will never be forgotten my friend.Rest in peace.

LT. Anthony Carollo
NYPD

November 16, 2006

God bless you Edward J Johnson Jr.you are a true hero,rest in peace.

Lieutenant
New YorK city Police Department

April 28, 2006

I served in the Fifth Pct from 7/84 to 10/02. Your name on the plaque hangs proudly behind the desk in the Fifth Pct. When I worked on the anniversary of your death throughout the years, the desk Sgt. will read the blotter entry from 1960 on the incident and the platoon will march to the desk, stand at attention, salute and have a moment of silence. Your driver was still assigned to the fifth when I was first assigned there and he was a gentleman. You are not forgotten. R.I.P Sarge.

P.O. NUNEZ (Ret.)
NYPD

March 1, 2006

In loving memory of Sgt. Edward J.
Johnson, Jr. :
After 45 years, we mourn your
death, we celebrate your life. With love from one coast of America to the other.
Lynn Kole
Washington State

September 5, 2005

God bless you for your tragic loss. You will never be forgotten for your service.

DE
St. Louis City Police

July 25, 2005

Thank you for your courage and dedication to duty. They won't be forgotten and neither will you. Rest in Peace sir.

Auxiliary Police Officer Charles Smith
New York City Police Department - Auxiliary Police Section

January 23, 2005

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