Friends and family of 22-year old Montclair student Deshon Johnson, who was killed by a New Jersey Transit bus a month ago, gathered today for in Bloomfield seeking justice in a case they believe has not been handled properly by authorities.
For his mother, Naomi Johnson, the death of her only son remains a tragedy as raw as on the day it happened. “He’s my only child. It’s like my breath has been taken away. It’s like my life has been taken away,” she said.
Mystery still surrounds the events of the morning of July 18, with those closest to the young man wondering how the tragedy could have happened. According to the family, the prosecutor’s office is using a surveillance video from the Exxon station across the street to help determine what happened.
Family lawyer Brad S. Schenerman said there may be potential witnesses to the event. “The goal of today is to remember what a nice man he was,” he said. “We want to know what happened. If anything needs to happen criminally we’ll make our best decision.”
Schenerman said officials are still trying to determine what happened.
“An investigator will be here later,” he said. “This case is his number one priority.”
“I understand that an investigation takes time but there was no concern about the mother. There was no feedback [from authorities],” said Renee Burnett, Naomi Johnson’s sister from Morris Plains, “There was no contact with her whatsoever. We learned what was happening from the news.”
stated that Johnson was possibly knocking on the windows or doors of the bus when he was struck. On the day of the incident, Bloomfield Mayor Raymond McCarthy told Patch, “The only information we were able to gather was that he was knocking on the windows of the back door of the bus. I guess the driver didn’t see him or hear him as he was making the turn. He was making that big, wide turn at Broad and Bay.”
This view was shared by Martin O’Boyle, the owner of Brookside Garden Center at the intersection, who said, "I heard people say he was knocking on the door and trying to chase the bus down.”
On Wednesday, Johnson's godmother Desheca Copeland was handing out leaflets to drivers at the intersection of Broad Street and Bay Avenue, asking any witnesses, or anyone with information, to come forward. After a couple of hours, she said she had gotten a few positive responses.
“Today we’re just seeking information on what happened,” Copeland told Patch. “Deshon is not the first person to be killed at this intersection.” She pointed to the bus stop, which was partially obscured from some angles by the foliage growing nearby. “All those trees are in the way. The turn is too narrow.”
Deshon’s friends, many of whom referred to themselves his brothers, stood on the opposite side of the street wearing large hand-written posterboard signs. “Did You See?” read one, while another one asked, “How About If This Was Your Love One?” A phone number was listed to call with information: 973-953-1144.
“It’s devastating,” said Burnett, who called herself “Deshon’s surrogate mom.” “Not a day goes by that we aren’t crying. I’m still trying to absorb that he’s not here.
“My concern is, who’s going to be there for her?” she said, referring to her sister, who suffered severe nerve damage after a car accident five years ago; unable to go back to her job as a kindergarten teacher, she remains on disability. “Deshon didn’t take the opportunity to go away to college. He stayed home to take care of his mother.”
Naomi Johnson, for her part, remains devastated. “My son was supporting me. How am I supposed to live? My son is gone. He was my protector.”
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