Deputy Sheriff David "Bubba" Johnson
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee
End of Watch: Sunday, January 12, 2014
Tour of Duty: Not available
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Automobile accident
Date of Incident: January 12, 2014
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available
Agency Contact Information
Sheriff John Fuson
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office
120 Commerce Street
Clarksville, TN 37040
Phone: (931) 552-1011
Deputy Sheriff David Johnson was killed in a single vehicle crash on U.S. 41A Bypass at approximately 11:20 pm.
His patrol car left the roadway and struck a tree, causing him to suffer fatal injuries.
CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy David “Bubba” Johnson usually ended his overnight shifts by sharing coffee and jokes with his fellow officers before heading home to his wife and daughter.
But there was no laughter at the Sheriff’s Office Monday morning.
Johnson, 52, died late Sunday night after his police cruiser ran off U.S. 41A Bypass and crashed into a tree while he was on routine patrol.
According to a preliminary report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Johnson was driving west on the bypass when his police cruiser left the northbound side of the the roadway and crashed into a tree at about 11:58 p.m.
There were no known witnesses to the crash, and the reason why his patrol car left the road remained unknown Monday. Officers went to the crash scene just east of Gary Mathews Automotive after someone who lived nearby heard the crash and found the wreckage. Johnson was wearing a seat belt, according to the Highway Patrol report.
“We have lost one of the great law enforcement officers of our time,” said Montgomery County Sheriff John Fuson. “He loved what he did for the county, and he loved what he did for the Sheriff’s Office.”
Three agencies in mourning
Flags across Montgomery County were lowered to half-staff Monday, and officers from the Sheriff’s Office and the Clarksville Police Department wore black bands on their badges as they mourned the loss of a man who spent 16 years as a deputy, 11 years as a city police officer and four years with Montgomery County Emergency Medical Services.
Sheriff Fuson, Clarksville Police Chief Al Ansley and EMS Director Jimmie Edwards came together to share their loss and to praise Johnson for more than 30 years of public service at a news conference Monday afternoon.
“The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office family is heartbroken over the tragic loss of Deputy David ‘Bubba’ Johnson,” Fuson said. “The biggest thing we need are prayers.”
Fuson said he once worked the midnight shift with Johnson. Both were transferred to the day shift at about the same time, but Johnson missed the nights so much he went back to the late shift a short time time later.
“He was a night owl,” Fuson said. “It was what he wanted to do, and he did it well.”
Johnson was also known for his easy-going nature.
“We nicknamed him Barney Rubble,” Fuson said. “He just had that laugh about him and was a charismatic human being. He was just a wonderful person, well suited to this job.”
Before joining the Sheriff’s Office, Johnson worked for the Clarksville Police Department.
Ansley attended the police academy with Johnson in 1987 and worked with him for many years.
“If you needed him, you can guarantee he’d be there,” Ansley said. “He was a great officer, a great deputy, a great servant for public safety, but most of all, he was a damn good human being.”
Edwards said Johnson worked with the ambulance service for EMS for more than four years before joining the Clarksville Police Department and was well-liked by his co-workers.
He was a unique man, with a unique laugh, Edwards said.
“This was an an honorable person who always made you laugh,” he said. “We will miss him so.”
A father and friend
Steve Claxton of Clarksville said he’ll remember Johnson as a family man, who especially loved spending time with his daughter, Shelby, and wife, Jennifer.
Claxton’s daughter and Shelby played softball together for many years, and Johnson coached his daughter’s teams from little league through middle school.
Johnson, Claxton and two other fathers even organized a traveling ball team to let the girls visit other cities in a 100-mile radius.
“He was all about family,” Claxton said. “(Shelby) was the center of his and Jennifer’s life.”
Johnson would often work nights and then meet his daughter after school to hit balls or play catch. After Shelby stopped playing softball toward the end of high school, her father shifted gears too.
“They started playing golf together,” Claxton said. “He was such a hard worker, but he always made time for family.”
Shelby and Claxton’s daughters are in college now, sorority sisters at Austin Peay. But they still find plenty of time to spend with each other’s families, taking vacations and spending nights together.
“He was just like family,” Claxton said. “He was like another dad to my daughter.”
Claxton said Johnson was also a friend who could always be counted on to help out whenever needed.
“He was always there if you needed him,” he said.
Deputy James Derico echoed that sentiment. He worked with Johnson for 16 years and could always count on “Bubba” if he needed something.
He and Johnson worked the same shift, but not always the same days. They last worked together Thursday night and always had coffee with other officers in the morning at the end of their shift.
“I can tell you, he never met a stranger,” Derico said. “He was just an all around good person. He was Bubba, happy-go-lucky.”
Full police funeral service planned
A full police funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church, followed by burial at Sango Cemetery. Law enforcement departments from across the state are expected to send representatives to honor an officer who died in the line of duty.
Visitation will be 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist and on Wednesday from noon until the 2 p.m. service.
Johnson was born in Montgomery County to Edward Ray Johnson and Marion Seay Johnson. In addition to his parents, wife and daughter, he is survived by a brother, Ray Johnson, who also works for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office will serve as pallbearers, and there will be a full honor guard.
Arrangements are being handled by Neal-Tarpley-Parchman Funeral Home.