A Missouri man who killed a police officer he blamed for his younger brother’s death was executed Tuesday night.
Kevin Johnson died by lethal injection of pentobarbital at the state prison in Bonne Terre for the 2005 murder of Kirkwood Police Officer William McEntee, a crime he committed when he was 19 years old.
The 37-year-old inmate did not make a final statement, but spoke with his spiritual advisor, the Rev. Darryl Gray, in the moments before the lethal drug was administered.
Gray read from the Bible as the drug worked through Johnson’s system. Within seconds, Johnson ceased moving, but Grady continued praying while patting Johnson’s shoulder.
Though Gray, a leading St. Louis racial injustice activist, was present for Johnson’s last moments in a first for modern executions in Missouri, Johnson’s daughter was noticeably absent.
Khorry Ramey, 19, filed a request to witness her father’s death with the help of the ACLU, but a federal judge upheld state law barring individuals under the age of 21 from being present at executions.
Ramey, who was 2 when Johnson was arrested, called her father “the most important person in my life” and claimed he worked hard to rehabilitate himself during his time in prison.
Johnson accepted his fate in his final moments, Gray said.
“He apologized again. He apologized to the victim’s family. He apologized to his family. He said he was looking forward to seeing his baby brother. And he said he was ready,” said Gray.
Johnson was sentenced to death after killing McEntee in a situation that began with the officer serving an arrest warrant, but devolved into a fatal evening.
When McEntee showed up at the house to deliver the warrant to Johnson, who police believed violated the probation he was on for assaulting his girlfriend, Johnson’s 12-year-old brother Joseph “Bam Bam” Long ran next door to his grandmother’s house, where he collapsed and had a seizure.
McEntee allegedly restricted the boys’ mother from entering the home to help Bam Bam and the boy later died at a hospital.
Upon seeing McEntee in the neighborhood later that evening, Johnson approached the officer while he was in his car and shot him through the open passenger-side window. He struck him in the leg, head and torso before getting in the car and taking McEntee’s gun.
Johnson also struck a teenager who was in the car with McEntee, but the teen survived.
Johnson told his mother that McEntee “let my brother die” and “needs to see what it feels like to die.” Despite his mother’s pleas that McEntee wasn’t responsible for Bam Bam’s death, Johnson returned to McEntee’s car to finish the job.
McEntee was alive and on his knees near the car. Johnson shot McEntee in the back and in the head, killing him.
Johnson and his lawyers have filed several appeals asking the state to spare his life over the years, including one filed just one week before his execution.
The Nov. 22 appeal argued Johnson’s trial was “infected” with racist prosecution techniques and that claimed racism played a role in his death penalty sentencing — Johnson was black and McEntee was white. The Supreme Court of Missouri denied the stay of execution Monday.
Though they never denied that he committed the murder, they argued his age at the time of the crime and his history of mental illness should overturn his death sentence.
Johnson’s execution is Missouri’s second this year and the 17th nationally. Missouri has two more executions scheduled for the first few weeks of 2023.
With Post Wires