The anniversary of the passing of Officer James S. Johnson falls on Oct. 25 each year. Officer Johnson is the only East Lansing Police Department (ELPD) officer to be killed in the line of duty.
On October 25, 1984, Officer Johnson went to an apartment on North Hagadorn to follow up on a UDAA (Unlawful Driving Away of an Automobile) complaint. The senior citizen living at this address had reported that his vehicle was taken without permission by his aide. Upon arriving, Officer Johnson made entry into the apartment and was ambushed by Wayne Lamarr Harvey and Patricia Ware. Harvey fatally shot Officer Johnson in the head. The two suspects fled on foot and were arrested on Birch Row near Hagadorn. Just prior to their arrest, the pair attempted to steal a second vehicle and killed the owner in the process.
Both suspects were convicted on multiple charges including first and second degree homicide. Harvey is currently serving two life sentences.
Officer Johnson was married and had six children. He served 11 years with the ELPD. He also served as a Captain in the United States Army. On the anniversary of Officer Johnson's passing, the ELPD Honor Guard makes an annual trip to Bedford, MI, where he and his wife, Valerie, are buried.