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Hero Down: Detroit PD Cpl. Waldis ‘Jay’ Johnson Dies From 3-Year-Old Gunshot

Detroit, MI – Detroit Police Department (DPD) Corporal Waldis “Jay” Johnson died in the line of duty on May 31, more than three years after he was shot in the head while responding to a domestic violence call.

Cpl. Johnson and his partner, DPD Officer Darren Maurice Weathers, were dispatched to the Oakman Apartment complex on Joy Road for a report of a domestic disturbance on April 30, 2017, The Detroit News reported.

When they arrived, they found that the front door of the apartment complex was locked, so they knocked for several minutes, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

When 46-year-old James Edward Ray opened the door, he immediately raised a gun and shot Cpl. Johnson in the head, The Detroit News reported.

Officer Weathers returned fire, killing Ray, then placed his wounded partner into a patrol car and rushed him to the hospital, according to The Detroit News.

Investigators later determined that Ray wasn’t even involved in the domestic violence call that prompted the officers to respond to the complex in the first place.

The following year, 25-year-old Officer Weathers was killed in a car crash while on duty.

Approximately six months after the shooting, Cpl. Johnson was able to stay awake and to breathe on his own, but he could not speak, his family told the Detroit Free Press at the time.

“He’s fully aware of what’s going on and what happened to him, but he cannot talk,” said his son, Arin Johnson. “It’s honestly extremely bad, and terrible. Very traumatic. This is the worst time of my life.”

Cpl. Johnson, 48, also has two other children. They were eight years old and 16 years old when their father was shot.

The 16-year veteran-of-the-force remained in a rehabilitation facility for the rest of his life, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

In addition to his years of service with the DPD, Cpl. Johnson also served in the U.S. Army, according to The Detroit News.

“We are truly saddened by the loss of our brother in blue,” the DPD said in a Facebook post on June 1. “He will be forever missed and never forgotten.”

Cpl. Johnson was laid to rest wearing his DPD uniform on June 10, the Detroit Free Press reported.

His funeral was attended by at least 75 of his fellow 2nd Precinct officers.

“We’ve done too many of these,” City of Detroit Chief of Staff Stephen Grady told DPD Chief James Craig from the podium during Cpl. Johnson’s funeral.

“Those who want to defund the police need to be sitting here today and they need to see the type of sacrifice that a true American hero makes,” Grady added.

Chief Craig said that Cpl. Johnson “carried the oath of his vow with the utmost integrity, respect and courage,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

“On this day, even as we share your loss, we take pride in claiming Corporal Johnson as one of our own,” he said.

Cpl. Johnson leaves behind his wife, Nicole, as well as his children, Arin, Piper and Jaden.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Detroit Police Department Corporal Waldis “Jay” Johnson, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Corporal Waldis Johnson, your life mattered.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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