CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – There has been so much sadness over the last few weeks with the passing of Charleston Police Officer Cassie Johnson, but now we reflect on all the good times.
13 News Anchor Hannah Goetz got the chance to talk to Cassie’s good friends and colleagues from the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association as they share their favorite memories from Cassie Johnson’s time as a humane officer.
“Cassie and I were in this mud-filled, feces-filled paddock and she got down like this and she said ‘let’s do it’ and we started chasing these feral dogs around like crazy and by the time we had gotten them all we were covered in mud we were covered in filth and she just looked at me and said ‘now that’s fun’ so that was kind of the first time we met Cassie,” Charleston Humane Officer Khrista Messinger, alongside KCHA behaviorist Julie Hypes, recalls the rainy October day back in 2017 when they first met Cassie Johnson.
Messinger goes onto say, “I remember she looked at me and I looked at her and she said ‘Are you ready to have some fun Khrista?’,” Hypes recalls the same day saying, “She was wrestling the goats and going after the dogs, and I remember telling Jeff ‘your partner is going to do good she’s not afraid to get dirty’.”
That was one of their biggest animal seizures to date, saving more than 40 animals. You can even see Cassie Johnson in the video from that day rescuing a dog in front of former police chief Opie Smith, the man who would – just over a year later – swear her into the Charleston Police Department.
“That was one of the first seizures we did with her and she always brightened it up laughing joking,” Messinger says.
From that point on, the friendships blossomed and Messinger and Hypes got to work closely with Cassie while she was a humane officer which included the many, many times she brought feral cats to the shelter.
“We were sitting up front in the lobby and Cassie comes in with her crazy laugh that just made everyone laugh, that big old smile and she said ‘I got more for ya,’ and she starts carrying in all these traps and I look at Julie and said ‘Oh boy, Cassie is on a role today’ and the next cat she comes in I’m like this, I’m like ‘Cassie, what are you doing??’ she brought in a cat with a Christmas sweater on! It had just gotten a haircut!” Messinger laughs as she recalls the day.
“I said ‘Cassie that is not a feral cat!’ and she said ‘Well, it is now’ Hypes explains through the giggles.
“She said ‘I remember where I got it from, so I will put it right back!’,” Messinger says.
This was just one of many times Cassie had them belly laughing.
“She always had jokes so I was walking behind her and she turned around really quickly and all of a sudden my nose started snotting, my eyes are watering and I had tears running down my face and I said “‘Cassie!’ and she said ‘Well, you need to know what the pepper spray is like’!”, Messinger added.
In her special ‘Cassie Johnson way’ of doing things, she was training Messinger to take her place as a humane officer when she got called for her dream job as a Charleston Police Officer.
Messinger tells 13 News, “She called me every day, ‘Hey Khrista, I got in the academy. I gotta find my replacement’ and she kept calling me and calling me and I said ‘Alright Cassie, alright’ and she loved being a humane officer so I said ‘Why do you want to do this?’ and she said ‘I wanna live out my dream protecting and serving the people of Charleston’.”
So the training began, and although Cassie had a lot of jokes she also had a lot to teach, but Messinger said some things you just can’t learn, like Cassie’s true passion for what she did.
“She always tried to find the owner and she always goes the extra mile to make sure that we would get them to their house. So we found this dog’s owner and we went up on the owner’s porch and she was always in training mode you know she wanted to be a police officer her whole life so I went up to the door and knocked and I said ‘Cassie, I don’t think there is anyone here’ and she said ‘Let me show you how it’s done’ and she gets up to the door and bam bam bam ‘humane officer for the great city of Charleston’ and that’s how she always said it and she said ‘You have to do it loud, Khrista. You have to use your police voice!’,” Messinger adds.
Her passion and pride for the city shining on every call.
“Like chief said, she is a warrior with a lamb’s heart you know you could see that she would go in with her strong police background and come out holding a sick puppy and that’s how I choose to remember her as…a hero…to everyone not just people but pets alike,” Messinger says.
Donations have been pouring into KCHA in honor of Cassie Johnson and Hypes and Messinger say there will be more good things to come in her memory.