Man who killed off-duty Detroit cop with her service weapon will likely not serve jail time

A man who shot and killed his girlfriend, a sergeant with the Detroit Police Department, will likely not serve jail time after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.

The plea agreement stems from an apparent incident of domestic violence several years ago. In June 2019, 35-year-old Eddie Ray-Jr. Johnson and his live-in girlfriend, Elaine Williams — a 34-year-old mother of two and a 14-year member of DPD — went out with some neighbors to grab drinks at a local bar.

“I know a lot of cops aren’t going to be happy about this.”

When everyone returned to their respective homes in Garden City, Michigan — a suburb of Detroit — the neighbors could hear Johnson and Williams arguing, court documents showed.

Then, just before midnight, police received a report of a shooting at the couple’s residence. When police arrived, they found Williams already dead with five gunshot wounds. Johnson had likewise been shot once in the abdomen. Both Williams and Johnson had a blood-alcohol level of at least twice the legal driving limit in Michigan that night.

Eight .40 caliber shell casings — all of which came from Williams’ department-issued Smith and Wesson pistol — were eventually recovered near her body, the Detroit News reported. At least one of Williams’ two children had also been in the residence at the time of the incident, police said.

Johnson was immediately arrested and then taken to the hospital. In his initial interviews following surgery, Johnson claimed he shot Williams in self-defense after “after she shot him one time,” prosecutors said. Johnson was later charged with first-degree murder and felony firearm.

On Friday, prosecutors offered Johnson, now 40, a plea deal that included no jail time but three years of probation. If he were to violate the conditions of his probation, he could face between 57 months and 15 years in prison. In exchange, Johnson, who arrived in the courtroom in a wheelchair and wearing an arm brace, pled no contest to manslaughter.

The sentence is not yet etched in stone as Johnson’s plea deal must still be approved by a judge. Johnson’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 14 with Wayne County Circuit Judge Charise Anderson.

Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy indicated in a statement that the plea deal was the best her office could do with the evidence available. “In this case, where both parties were shot with the same gun, the order of events is open to multiple interpretations,” she said. “Considering our burden of proof, we believe this is an appropriate resolution.”

Detroit Police Chief James White seemed similarly resigned. “The heart of the Detroit Police Department still breaks at the tragic death of Sergeant Elaine Williams,” White said in a statement. “This plea deal is not the outcome that the DPD wanted for Sgt. Williams’ loved ones, but we understand the unique circumstances of this case and therefore accept the Prosecutor’s decision.”

Retired Detroit Police Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt, however, expressed “shock” at Johnson’s likely jail-free sentence, calling it “awfully lenient.” “I don’t have all the facts, but probation seems awfully lenient,” Dolunt said. “It seems they could’ve tried to charge him with involuntary manslaughter, at least. I know a lot of cops aren’t going to be happy about this.”

Johnson’s attorney, Raymond Burkett, did not respond to the Detroit News’ request for comment.

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