LOCAL NEWS

‘We protect our officers’: Santaquin community shows support for family of fallen police officer

May 5, 2024, 10:38 PM | Updated: May 6, 2024, 5:43 am

SANTAQUIN Law enforcement agencies and people across the state are sharing messages of support and paying their respects to the family of a fallen Santaquin police officer. 

Police said a semitruck driver intentionally hit and killed the officer Sunday morning.

Semitruck driver hits, kills Utah officer, police say; driver in custody after hourslong manhunt

Heartbreak

“It just breaks your heart over and over every time you hear it,” said Shante Johnson. 

Her husband, Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson, was shot and killed Sept. 1, 2013. She now works with the Fraternal Order of Police as a family liaison, helping individuals get through a situation she knows all too well. 

“Any time we hear of something like this, we just try to immediately assist the family, let them know that we’re here for them in any capacity that we can be available to them,” Johnson said.  

The officer’s death has shaken the small Utah County town. 

“It just breaks your heart over and over every time you hear it,” said Shante Johnson.  (KSL TV)

“We protect our officers,” said Tamara Ray Davis, who lives in Santaquin and visited a memorial put up for the officer. “There’s too much violence in the world these days.” 

Her grandfather, Joseph Davis, couldn’t believe what he was hearing on the police scanners. 

“I heard there was a wreck,” he said. 

When he learned a Santaquin police officer was killed early Sunday morning, he said he was horrified. 

“I thought, ‘No, no, we can’t have that, we can’t have that stuff. We have to keep our officers going,'” Davis said. 

Johnson visited the officer’s family at their home in the hours following his death. 

“They’re in shock, they’re devastated,” she said. “They’re just feeling the ultimate loss and they don’t know what to do.” 

Johnson said she understands what the officer’s widow is feeling. 

“I just know that it’s going to be hard for her and we can just be here for her as a beacon of hope now,” Johnson said. 

Family is searching for answers

She said the family is reeling. 

“They’re searching for any answers that they can get,” Johnson said. “They just want to wake up from this nightmare and it’s just not to be real.” 

She said fortunately, the house is already full of family and gifts from friends. 

“I felt good leaving knowing she had a good support system,” Johnson said. 

But she knows firsthand the pain the officer’s widow is feeling. 

“Grief doesn’t have a timeline and that it’s going to hurt for a minute, and it’s OK,” Johnson said. “It’s just like, let it hurt and to let people help.” 

Procession route

Dozens of community members and first responders showed their support for the family, lining the procession route along Interstate 15.

Leslee Lindberg and her husband pulled over when they saw emergency vehicles lined up for miles. 

“People around us were taking their hats off and just sitting there in silence,” she said. “Everyone just kind of took pause wherever they were and just, I mean, it was at least the six or seven minutes, we were there, no one moved. We all just sat in silence and focused on what we were looking at.” 

She said there was one particularly powerful moment she witnessed. 

“My husband and I noticed down, kind of a few miles down the road that there was a really, really big dark cloud that kept quickly moving, kind of shifting,” Lindberg said. “But the clouds were just moving pretty quick just to right where the procession was about to start. And the sky started to clear and it almost just looked like the sun was shining through right before the procession was coming through.” 

She watched as dozens of men and women in uniforms from law enforcement agencies across Utah and Salt Lake counties stood at attention on crowded overpasses as the procession drove through. 

Dozens of men and women in uniforms from law enforcement agencies across Utah and Salt Lake counties stood at attention on crowded overpasses as the procession drove through. (KSL TV)

“It just made me reflect on all the families, and especially the family of the officer and just the people that experienced a lot of loss for those that sacrifice for us to have what we do,” she said. 

Dozens of bouquets, flags, notes and silent tributes were paid in front of the Santaquin Police Department. 

“It’s beautiful and well-deserved,” said Ray Davis. 

Many honored a man people they knew personally. Others paid tribute to a stranger who they want to thank for his service and sacrifice. 

“Fly your flags and put your blue lights out and write letters and thank a police officer,” Johnson said. 

Another procession will be held Monday at 10 a.m. to bring the fallen officer back home to Santaquin.

KSL 5 TV Live

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‘We protect our officers’: Santaquin community shows support for family of fallen police officer