The High Risk Along The Thin Blue Line

Tuesday afternoon, Charleston Police Department patrolman Officer Cassie Johnson responded to a parking complaint on Garrison Avenue.

That sounds mundane.  Somebody is illegally parked.  There is a complaint. An officer shows up and asks the person to move their car, maybe issues them a ticket.

How many times does that happen every day in Charleston, in every city and county across the country?

Routine stuff, right?  Until it is not routine.

Tuesday’s call led to a confrontation between Patrolman Johnson and Joshua Phillips. There was a scuffle.  Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford said on Talkline Thursday, “We’re still studying the evidence and collecting everything, but it appears—right now—that he (Phillips) definitely pulled the weapon that he had prior to the officer.”

Patrolman Cassie Johnson (File)

Both fired their weapons.  Phillips was struck twice, but he is expected to survive. Patrolman Johnson will not.

Her wounds were so severe that after surgery she was taken off life support and her wishes to be an organ donor were being carried out. She has now passed away.

“Her family still needs your prayers,” said Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin.  “Officer Cassie Johnson is going to leave an amazing legacy for every woman in this city. We love Cassie. We love her family.”

By all accounts, Johnson loved her job.  The Charleston native said when she joined the force in 2019, “I’ve been working extremely hard over the last year to get ready for it.  I am really happy to finally get to follow my dreams of working with the Charleston PD,” she told MetroNews affiliate WCHS-AM at the time.

Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt said of Johnson, “She worked hard. She did everything right… she was doing a fantastic job.”

This has not been an easy year for the police in this country. The excesses of a few officers have caused a backlash against the police. Some on the far left are even advocating that police departments be “defunded,” as if we could somehow maintain a civil society without the “thin blue line.”

When an officer is assaulted in the line of duty, it is an assault on all of us because the police are our representatives responsible for the enforcement of our laws to help maintain order and protect us.

Patrolman Johnson’s murder is a graphic and tragic reminder that police work is dangerous, and sometimes life threatening. Officers must always remain vigilant whenever they are called, even in the case of a simple parking complaint.


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