Honoring longtime TDOC employee killed in the line of duty

Posted at 5:40 PM, Feb 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 09:35:33-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A longtime Tennessee Department of Corrections employee was honored Sunday in a special way after she was brutally murdered in the line of duty.

Debra Johnson's name will be placed on Interstate 440 as a portion of the interstate is now named the Debra K. Johnson Memorial Parkway.

Senator Brenda Gilmore led the ceremony honoring the dedicated TDOC administrator.

Johnson worked for TDOC for more than 38 years before being killed in 2019.

Her son Mychal, who said a few words on Sunday, spoke about his mother's impact on the community.

"A man came up to me and told me 'I don't know your momma but I know five people, employees of TDOC as well as incarcerated inmates, and they were crying and balling like crazy,'" Mychal said. "Grown men talking about how much your mother impacted their lives."

After the ceremony, a car parade left from Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church to I-440 before heading back to the church.

The church is special for the Johnson family as they've been attending this church for years.

Curtis Watson has been charged and awaiting trial. Watson allegedly killed Johnson and escaped prison for five days before being captured again.