HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — Two years after the murder of a Charleston police officer, a bill aimed at protecting first responders is moving through the legislature.
Senate Bill 490, or The Patrol Officer Cassie Marie Johnson Memorial Act, would stiffen the penalty for anyone who willfully causes the death of any first responder.
Johnson was shot in the line of duty while responding to a parking complaint on Dec. 1, 2020. She died of her injuries on Dec. 3, 2020.
This proposal comes days after someone pulled a gun on an EMS worker responding to a weekend call in Cabell County.
The Cabell County EMS Director, Gordon Merry, says they need to utilize protocols already put in place to protect first responders — now more than ever.
“Unfortunately, it’s happening more now than it did years ago,” Merry says. “This is the second time we’ve had a gun pulled on us. The world’s changed. In lieu of what happened over the weekend, anything we can do to deter people from assaulting first responders is a plus.”
The penalty for this offense would be 15 years to life, with no parole for the first 15 years of the sentence.
Cassie Johnson’s mother, Cheryl Johnson, spoke during the senate hearing on her daughter’s behalf and in support of the bill.
“The kid just wanted to serve the city of Charleston and the members of Charleston and the community that she had grown to up with and that she considered her friends and that she loved.”Cheryl Johnson
According to the bill, charges against the suspect would have to prove intent to kill without probable cause.