Chief David McDavid of the Zachary Police Department and Chief Danny Kimble of the Zachary Fire Department in Louisiana, sadly report the death of Reserve Officer Christopher Lawton, who also serves the city as the deputy fire chief.
Officer Lawton and his partner were looking for a man wanted on a felony narcotics warrant as well as assaulting his girlfriend with a firearm. They spotted him in a U-Haul truck in the parking lot of a Walmart Store. The officers parked their marked patrol unit behind the truck and approached the vehicle to contact the occupants.
The driver, who was the wanted person on a felony drug warrant, fled the traffic stop. In doing so, he pinned Lawton between the passenger side of the truck and a shopping cart coral. As a result, Lawton fell to the ground and was run over by the vehicle. The suspect then fled the parking lot.
Lawton sustained critical injuries from the vehicular assault. Citizens came to his aid and rendered medical assistance. One lady removed her shirt and used it to try to stop the blood flowing from his body. She later used it to cover him after he died.
Lawton’s partner was able to broadcast a description of the truck and direction of travel. The suspect was stopped and apprehended a short time later. He was charged with murder, fail to stop at an injury accident and the drug violations listed on the warrant. The occupant of the truck was charged with obstruction of a peace officer.
“He was pronounced dead… at the scene,” a visibly shaken Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said in a late-night news conference Monday.
“Everybody’s taking it rough. I, unfortunately, have been through this more than once. It’s not an easy thing to go through,” the sheriff said. “[We] have to be supportive of each other and of the families involved.”
Lawton was a part time unpaid reserve officer with the Zachary Police Department. Moreover, he was a full time deputy chief/firefighter with the Zachary Fire Department.
“Chris was a hard worker and a dedicated fireman,” Zachary Fire Chief Danny Kimble said. “And a family man, he believed very much in his family.”
Chief Kimble added that Chief Lawton, who was recently honored for 20 years in the fire service, was dedicated to “just being a public servant, giving back to his community.”
“Chris was a leader to the men below him, he was a leader for the fire service,” Kimble said. “Chris was very dependable, if he told you he was going to do something, you could count on it going to happen.”
Both the police and fire chiefs were on the scene late Monday. The group prayed with a chaplain in the parking lot.
All flags were ordered to be flown at half-staff by Mayor Sharon Weston Broome to honor Chief Lawton.
“I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of the Zachary firefighter and policeman who lost his life while bravely serving his community,” Mayor Broome said. “I join all of East Baton Rouge Parish in expressing my gratitude for his service, and offer up prayers for his family, his fellow first responders, and to all those who knew him. Our hearts go out to the Zachary community.”
— Dorothea Henry (@dorotheahenry) March 13, 2018
— Chris Nakamoto WBRZ (@ChrisNakamoto) March 13, 2018
Officer Lawton served his community over 20 years. His wife and two children survive him.
Reserve Police Officer/Deputy Fire Chief Christopher Lawton is gone, but will never be forgotten. EOW: Monday, March 12, 2018.