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Thousands expected to attend officer's funeral

By Sandra Yi  |  Posted Sep 4th, 2013 @ 10:26pm


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DRAPER — The Johnson family chose to have a public service for Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson to include a community which they said has shown overwhelming support during a difficult time.

Thousands are expected to attend, including officers from across the country.

Derek's family said they won't focus on their loss, but on celebrating a man who lived his life with integrity and valor.

Randy Johnson, the father of the fallen officer, said his son was always drawn to a career in law enforcement and recalled the words he wrote in a sixth grade essay.

"He said that when he grows up, he either wants to be a policeman or a fireman," Randy said.

Derek acted on that dream even at a young age.

"He used to have a scanner that he sat up and he would listen to all the police calls come in," Randy said.

Despite the inherent risks, the Johnsons said Derek was proud to serve his community.

"When my brother put his uniform on, that's what he loved to do," Darin Johnson said.

Derek was killed early Sunday when he came upon a Volvo parked in a Draper neighborhood. Police said Timothy Walker shot at Derek in his patrol car without warning. Walker then shot his girlfriend, Traci Vaillencourt, before shooting himself, according to police.

Derek's family said they believe he was checking on the couple as he headed back to the police department. He was 10 minutes from the end of his last graveyard shift.

"He had a lot of love to give and he did that unselfishly and he would do it until he couldn't walk and he ultimately gave his life for it," Darin said.

Funeral Arrangements for Sgt. Johnson

The funeral for Sergeant Derek Johnson will be held as follows:

Date: Friday, September 6, 2013

Time: 11 a.m.

Location: Maverick Center

Address: 3200 South Decker Lake Drive (2200 West)

Internment: Larkin Sunset Gardens, 1950 E. Dimple Dell Road (10600 South) in Sandy, Utah

A public viewing will be held as follows:

Date: Thursday, September 5, 2013

Time: 6-9 p.m.

Location: Maverick Center

Address: 3200 South Decker Lake Drive (2200 South)

*Due to multiple large events that are being held in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday, the location for Sergeant Johnson's funeral and public viewing has been moved to the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah.

Darin said his brother always treated people with respect and that went a long way.

"He would shake your hand and introduce himself and look you square in the eye and that made such an impact on so many people," Darin said.

Derek was proud to serve his community in any way he could, Darin said.

"He would even do small things; like if you left your garage door open at night he would come and knock on your door and let you know your garage door was open— just right down to the little things of making sure that nobody would have to deal with an unfortunate situation," Darin said.

Darin has been going to school in Denver to be a paramedic. In July, he visited his brother and had the chance to ride along with Derek at work. He said he saw how Derek cared for his fellow officers and the community.

"We really just had a really special moment to talk about what he wanted done," Darin said. "He just said 'You just make sure my boy and my wife are taken care of' and he always told me that he loved me."

The family said the community support has helped them cope with their loss. They said Derek was a true servant to the community and he stood tall, even in the face of danger.

Due to other large events happening downtown during the weekend, like Comic Con where people will be dressing up as characters, funeral services for Derek have been moved from the Salt Palace to the Maverik Center in West Valley City.

Funeral services for Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at the Maverik Center in West Valley City at 3200 S. Decker Lake Drive (2200 West). A public viewing will be held Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. also at the Maverik Center.

The interment will be at Larkin Sunset Gardens, 1950 E. Dimple Dell Road (10600 South).

Utah Governor Gary Herbert ordered flags be lowered to half staff across the state in honor of Sgt. Johnson's service.

The family said Derek loved being a dad to his 6-year-old son. They plan to compile people's comments for his little boy.

Contributing: Alex Cabrero

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