'True servant' was wrapping up final graveyard shift when he was shot

Friday funeral for Sgt. Derek Johnson now moved to Maverik Center

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4 2013 3:50 p.m. MDT

Darin Johnson, brother, and Desirae Payne, sister of slain Draper police officer Derek Johnson, hug following an interview in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

DRAPER — Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson was just 10 minutes away from finishing his final graveyard shift.

He was headed back to the Draper Police Department just before 6 a.m. Sunday and was about 30 seconds away from pulling into the parking lot, when he came across a vehicle stopped in the road on 13200 South.

Seconds later, without warning, Johnson was shot multiple times, according to police, and later died from his injuries.

Family members said Wednesday that he had been looking forward to being in charge of search and rescue operations in Corner Canyon. That new job would have started this week when he would have switched to a day shift.

Darin Johnson described his brother Wednesday as a "true servant of the community."

"When my brother put his uniform on, that's what he loved to do," he told the Deseret News. "Just smiled, was ready to go to work. He was ready to lead his crew of guys. He was so proud to be a sergeant.

"I think when you take the time to treat people with the respect that they deserve, they remember you. And my brother always gave people the respect they deserved. And he would shake their hand and introduce himself and look you square in the eye. And that made an impact on so many people," Darin Johnson said.

Derek Johnson's desire to be a police officer started when he was a young boy. For a sixth-grade class assignment, his father recalled, "he said that when he grows up, he either wants to be a policeman or a fireman.

"He's wanted to be police all his life. He used to have a scanner that he set up and listen to all the police calls come in. He knew all the codes," Randy Johnson said.

Derek Johnson graduated from Alta High School. He married his middle school sweetheart, Shante, in the Salt Lake LDS Temple in 2000 shortly after high school.

"They just hit it off," Johnson's father said of the first time his son met his future wife. "Those two, they were a team."

In 2006, Derek and Shante had a son, Bensen Ray. Randy Johnson said his son always referred to his boy, who is now 6, as his "little buddy," and would remind him often that he loved him.

Shante Johnson was at Swiss Days in Summit County when the family began to hear that a Draper police officer had been shot Sunday morning. And then they learned that officers were driving to Midway.

"At that point, we were concerned," Randy Johnson conceded.

"She's solid," Randy Johnson said of how his daughter-in-law has been holding up since the shooting. "She has a tremendous faith. She also has a love for the police department and also for what they do. She is struggling over what will life bring now. She has a young son (and wonders) how will she bring comfort to him and also keep the remembrance of their dad."

Ben, his son, cried for about five minutes when he was told what happened to his father, Johnson said. But then he was drawn away to play with new Legos he had received, indicating that the 6-year-old hasn't fully grasped what happened, he said.

Starting Thursday, members of the public and law enforcement officers from across the country are expected to descend on Utah to pay their last respects to the man who paid the ultimate price while protecting and serving his community.

Funeral services for Johnson were changed again Wednesday from the Salt Palace Convention Center to the Maverik Center in West Valley City because of concerns about Salt Lake Comic Con taking place at the same time at the Salt Palace and other large events occurring in downtown Salt Lake City.

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