A somber holiday season reminder of loss, a Christmas tree decorated by the family of slain Draper police Sgt. Derek Johnson, has been put on display at the southwestern Salt Lake County community’s City Hall.
Timothy T. Walker has been charged with first-degree felony aggravated murder, a death penalty offense, in the Sept. 1 ambush shooting of Johnson, 32. The officer, seeing Walker’s car parked at an odd angle at 13200 S. Fort St., had stopped to help when Walker allegedly shot him inside his police car.
Prosecutors say Walker then turned a handgun on his girlfriend, Traci Vaillancourt, and then shot himself. Both Walker and Vaillancourt survived; Johnson, after driving a short distance and crashing into a tree, died at the scene.
But on Thursday, Johnson’s family, friends and fellow law officers focused on honoring the fallen lawman through the Sergeant Derek Johnson Memorial Tree.
The tree will be on display at Draper City Hall, 1020 E. Pioneer Road (12400 South), from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
Draper Police Chief Bryan Roberts said the tree serves as “a fitting tribute to a young man who devoted his life to public service.”
“I invite the public to come to City Hall and view the tree and reflect on all the law enforcement officers across the country who protect our communities,” he added.
The tree had been purchased during the annual Festival of Trees auction on Dec. 3, and the anonymous buyer donated the tree back to the Johnson family. The family, in turn, donated the tree to the Draper City Police Department.
The funds generated from the purchase went to Primary Children’s Medical Center.
Among the decorations are many of the commemorative coins and departmental shoulder patches sent to the Johnson family from more than 150 police agencies across the country, Roberts said.