Funeral Held for Slain Newark Police Officer

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mayor Booker calls the deadly shooting of an off-duty police officer a "heinous act of unspeakable evil." (Published Friday, May 27, 2011)

    An off-duty Newark police officer was mourned Thursday, a week after he was killed in a drive-by shooting.     

    Officer William Johnson was standing at the counter of a fast-food restaurant in Newark waiting for a slice of pizza when he was shot along with two other people last week. One suspect has been arrested.

    Newark Mayor Cory Booker previously condemned the shooting and pledged to achieve justice for Johnson and his family. Speaking at the funeral Thursday, Booker honored Johnson and said he went to do the work of God.

    "When a person chooses to be a police officer, they are called in times of crisis. It takes a courageous soul and do something about it," Booker said. "We are here because of how a man chose to live. He saw in us what was worth sacrificing for."

    The 45-year-old Johnson was a single father of two daughters, one of whom had to be led out of his funeral service today because she was weeping and shaking.

    His nickname was Junior, because he was the youngest in his family.

    In a program handed out at the funeral service, Johnson's devastated family wrote, "Jr. loved his girls. They were his world, and he took the job of being a father seriously. He embraced the challenge of raising two girls head-on and worked tirelessly to be a good provider."

    Johnson took his job seriously as well. The slain officer grew up in Newark and worked in the police department's video surveillance unit. He was a 16-year veteran of the force.     

    According to the funeral program, Johnson worked for Continental Airlines after college, but found his true calling in police work and joined the Newark force.

    Authorities have charged 19-year-old Rasul McNeill-Thomas with murder and aggravated assault. Police have been searching for a second suspect.     

    Johnson will be buried in Union.

    He attended Arts High School in Newark and Delaware State University, and was a member of the U.S. Army Reserves.