CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has signed a bill into law that will provide more protections for first responders.

Senate Bill 490, or The Patrol Officer Cassie Marie Johnson Memorial Act, will stiffen penalties for anyone who willfully causes the death of any first responder. Anyone who commits such a crime will face 15 years to life in prison.

The bill is named in honor of Charleston Patrol Officer Johnson was shot in the line of duty while responding to a parking complaint on Dec. 1, 2020. She died of her injuries on Dec. 3, 2020.

At a senate hearing on the bill in February, Cassie Johnson’s mother, Sheryl Johnson, spoke during the senate hearing on her daughter’s behalf and in support of the bill.

Following the signing of the bill, Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt and Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin released statements on the new law:

“Because of the reckless disregard for human life, Patrol Officer Cassie Johnson is no longer with us. Now that there are stiffer penalties for obstructing the law, we are hopeful bad actors will be deterred from committing these violent crimes and our law enforcement officers and first responders can feel more protected while they are working to serve our communities. Thank you, Sheryl Johnson, for speaking to the bill and for your continued support for law enforcement.”

Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt

“There is not a day that goes by that we don’t think about Cassie, her commitment to our community, and the loss that was experienced by so many – especially her brothers and sisters in blue. We appreciate the Legislature’s willingness to sit down and listen to our police officers – and, especially, the family of Cassie Johnson.”

Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin