Son: Family struggling as cop recovers from being shot

George Hunter
The Detroit News

A Detroit police officer who was shot in the head in April while responding to a domestic violence call is slowly recovering, although his family is struggling financially, the cop’s son said.

Officer Waldis “Jay” Johnson was wounded April 30 when he and his partner knocked on the door of the Oakman Apartments on the city’s west side, after someone called police to report domestic violence.

Son Arin Johnson said his dad didn’t need to take the call.

“He was literally pulling into his precinct (as his shift ended), and he didn’t want the girl in the domestic dispute to be in danger,” Arin Johnson said. “He said, ‘let’s just take the call so she doesn’t have to wait for another car.’

After Johnson and his partner arrived at the building and knocked on the front door, surveillance video showed tenant James Ray loading his .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol as he walked from his apartment to the building entrance, Police Chief James Craig said.

Ray shot Johnson in the head. Johnson’s partner fired back, killing the 46-year-old man, who was not involved in the original domestic violence call.

After the shooting, Arin Johnson said he quit his job in New York City and returned to Detroit to help care for his father. He said he spends hours each day at the rehab facility where his dad is recovering.

“His condition is getting better, but with a traumatic brain injury the recovery time is longer than expected,” he said. “He’s alert, and slowly coming out of the coma he was in. He’ll occasionally give a smile or react to something, which is great, because with an injury like he had, it could have been a lot worse.

“He’s breathing on his own, and slowly coming back into consciousness, but he can’t move or speak because his nervous system is shot. We’re just maintaining faith, and I’m glad he’s not brain dead.”

Arin Johnson said he’s unable to work because he spends several hours a day with his father. “I can’t get a job right now because my dad would have nobody to look after his care.

“This whole process has been extremely difficult on my family,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of support. I started a gofundme account, and that helped a little, but we’re still having a horrible time financially and personally.”

James Mastronardi, a friend of the Johnson family, is hosting a bowling fundraiser at 1 p.m. Saturday at Vision Lanes, 38250 Ford Road in Westland. Tickets are $25, and cover two bowling games, shoes and pizza.

Tickets to the fundraiser may be purchased at the door, or at

“His daughter plays soccer with my daughter, and we wanted to help,” Mastronardi said. “We’re hoping to raise money to help the family with living expenses because that income is not there.”

Johnson’s shooting marked the eighth time in seven months that a Detroit police officer was shot in the line of duty. Since then, there have been several cases where Detroit officers were shot at or assaulted.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN