ROANOKE, Va. – Hundreds of friends and fellow officers honored a former Roanoke Police Department sergeant during his funeral Saturday afternoon.
Sgt. Erik “Ed” Johnson passed away Nov. 15 at 45 years old from brain cancer. He had served with the Roanoke Police Department for 21 years before his death, and also served with the Army in Afghanistan.
Roanoke Police Chief Tim Jones said Johnson knew how to show his human side, even while wearing the badge.
“Erik was that kind of guy," Jones said. "You saw him as a police officer, but there was a whole other compassionate, fun-loving, engaging individual.”
Johnson’s close friend on the force, Lt. Andy Pulley, said his sense of humor made the police department a better place. Pulley said Johnson was well know for sending pictures and memes to make his co-workers laugh.
“It would be a challenge for you to keep a straight face," Pulley said. "I left my phone sitting on the pew when I went up to speak, just in case he’d figured out a way. The world is a little less funny now that we’ve lost Erik.”
Beyond his humorous ways, Jones also remembers Johnson for his role in solving the murder of 2-year-old Aveion Lewis in 2010.
“Being part of that recovery team, that touched him," Jones said. "You heard it today noted about his care for others.”
At the end of the funeral, Johnson’s family received two folded flags in his honor. A soldier presented one to his widow, while Jones presented the other one to his only child.
“To look into her eyes and see her father in her, it’s a very, very emotional moment,” Jones said.
Johnson may be gone, but Pulley says his legacy and humor already lives on through his daughter.
“She sent me a meme in honor of her dad, and I lost it," Pulley said. "I went to the corner and cried.”